what to sayEver worry about what you’re going to say in a crucial moment?

I sure do.

I’m heading to a writer’s conference this week, with some anxiety about being effective when I pitch my story idea to agents and editors.

But there are other times I feel inadequate about expressing my thoughts, as well: when a loved one is hurting, when someone dies too young, when I’m asked about my faith, when friends disagree with me about cultural issues.

The preacher’s sermon this week reminded us that it’s okay to ask difficult questions. As Christians, we need to make it safe for others to express their doubts or to challenge our beliefs.

Not only should we encourage such questioning, but we should also be ready, as Peter said,  “to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15-16, HCSB). Answering those who question our faith is not a matter of winning an intellectual argument. Our intent should be to lovingly point the way for others to find the Savior.

Worrying about getting the words right in difficult situations is natural. Fortunately, we have this assurance from scripture: “Don’t worry beforehand what you will say. On the contrary, whatever is given to you in that hour—say it. For it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11, HCSB).

Before I go into an appointment with prospective editors and agents, I will be praying that the Holy Spirit will direct my thoughts so that I can convey my story well. And when I have the opportunity to minister to a friend who is struggling, I pray that He will give me the right words to say to show His love.