Recently, a well-known leader in an evangelical church has come under fire for comments he made some time ago. This is just the latest in a long line of prominent leaders, both inside and outside the church, who have had long forgotten comments come back to haunt them. And while I agree with the concerns expressed and as a pastor my first piece of advice to any person (male or female) who has been struck physically even once would be to leave that person IMMEDIATELY and call both your pastor and the authorities, that is not the point I want to get at today.
Today, I want to caution leaders to heed the advice given in James 1:19. "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger ...". Quick to hear and slow to speak. There is great wisdom in that verse. Always speak with the remembrance that what you say today is probably being recorded and can (and probably will) come back to haunt you many years from now. Even if there are no microphones present, there are generally people who are listening and will remember what you say for a very long time.
To be clear, I'm not saying not speak! But, think before you do so. Consider the advice you are about to give. And, if you give poor advice or wish you could clarify something, don't hesitate to follow up with the person. Make sure you are speaking "good news" to the person (even if it may not seem like good news at the time). Paul's advice in Colossians 4:6 is helpful here, "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person."
So, whether you are a pastor, Sunday School teacher, small group leader or some other form of leader in the local church assembly, listen to the words of Proverbs 21:23, "Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble." Stay out of trouble, guard your mind and tongue. Speak always as if someone is recording what you say. Chances are in today's world, they are.
Grace and Peace.