How to make your voice heard
Of the many things I have reflected upon since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the thing that has struck me most is that she kept quiet more often than not. Undoubtedly, she had an opinion on many things, whether political policies, climate change, or even her personal opinions about others. Yet, she refrained from making those opinions known publicly.
This contrasts with her husband and son, who are both known for being outspoken. The late Duke of Edinburgh struggled to keep his mouth shut on many occasions, resulting in blunders such as telling a 13-year-old boy who wanted to go into space, “You’re too fat to be an astronaut,” or the time he asked Cate Blanchett for help with his DVD player because he was told that she “worked in the film industry.” Even King Charles III was caught on camera two weeks ago losing his temper about a leaky pen he was given to sign something.
Yet, Queen Elizabeth II refrained from such public outbursts, choosing to bite her tongue and keep quiet. This aspect of her character reminds me of the passage where James tells his readers that they should be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” (James 1:19) And as a result of this characteristic, when the Queen did speak, people listened.
One of those occasions when people really listened was the Queen’s Christmas Message, broadcast every year on Christmas Day. Since the turn of the millennium, her messages increasingly contained her opinions on one subject that she had clearly determined she was unafraid to speak on: her faith in Jesus Christ. One year that stands out to me, in particular, was 2011, when she said the following:
In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer:
O Holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us we pray
Cast out our sin
And enter in
Be born in us today
It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.Queen Elizabeth II
The Queen kept silent on many issues, but not on the matter of faith. She was determined to use the voice that she had to share the good news about Jesus with those to whom she was speaking.
How about you? How do you use your voice? Do you freely give your opinions on every topic, making sure those around you know exactly what you think? Or do you refrain from speaking on certain things, so that when you do speak, your voice is heard?
I know I tend to be slow to listen and quick to speak, and the example of Queen Elizabeth II challenges me to save my words for when they really matter, for when I have the opportunity to impact eternity.