Nikes, Nibbles & Sweet Speech

Nikes, Nibbles & Sweet Speech

Proverbs 16:21  “The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.”


We headed to the school unrushed and unrumpled this particular morning.  Lunch bags – check.  Snow gear  – check.  Tennis ball retrieved from roof for wall ball – check.  After curbside smooches, I return to relish the stillness of the house.  Except for the peaceful swoosh of the dishwasher and the odd squeaks of dreaming pups, the house is still and inviting me to think, pray, and write.  Ah……. Can you take that deep breath of contentment with me?

But wouldn’t you know it?  Before I’m done the exhale, the phone rings.  Oh, I know what it means when the phone rings within a minute of me returning home.  It means that some daughter discovered that an earth-shatteringly important item has been forgotten.  The day’s culprit:  Running shoes.

It’s a good thing not all our communication has gone visual, because I doubt my face radiated grace when I picked up the phone and said “hello”.  It was not a cheery “Hi there – so good to hear from you!” hello.  No.  This was a “Why are you calling me with some other request to serve you when I already spend most of my life doing that already” hello.  On the other line was the second of our offspring, Avery.  Sweet Avery was dropped down to earth as a beacon of grace, goodness and hilarity, but who also has a knack for leaving her shoes at home after basketball practice.  Like…all the time.

My cool hello was met with this humble and melodious request:  “Hi Mom!  Would you be a dear and run my shoes over to the school?”


I’d like to meet the mom who could refuse that request or be upset at the interruption.  Honestly, I give in to this child’s requests the majority of the time for no other reason than that she oozes the wisdom of our verse for today.  How can you not smile when a 10-year-old has mastered principles of wise speech that most of us decades older still struggle with?

Or I recall another example when wee Scarlett was younger and had already been tucked in for the night (read: Mom’s ready to be off duty…).  Her little head popped around the corner and she cooed, “Mom, if you come cuddle me some more, I’ll let you nibble.”

Sweet?  Indeed.

Persuasive?  Guess who went in for more nibbles…


Who wouldn’t want to nibble that?


So why don’t we use it more?  If sweet speech is so compelling and produces better results, you think we’d opt to persuade with it more than we opt to use abrupt, nagging or harsh words.  But sometimes we forget how good it is.  Sometimes we’re too lazy to expend the effort.  Sometimes we lack the faith to believe that God’s ways are truly better than our own.

You think I’d know by now.  When I employ ugly speech, I shake my head afterwards and wonder if I’ll ever learn.  It’s never effective.  Or even if it is temporarily effective, it comes with a nasty price tag that someone I love has to pay.  There is a better way.

Think of the influence we could have:

  • If we are living for the glory of God and could influence others to do the same,
  • Or we could influence a situation in order to bring about a good and peaceful outcome,
  • Or we could convince someone of the beauty of the gospel,
  • Or we could improve acceptance of the day’s orders and requests,
  • Or we could soften a difficult but needed conversation,
  • Or we could persuade the sweet ones in our home that living by God’s design is truly best,

Being persuasive is a worthy goal.

Sweet speech is persuasive speech.   Friend, can I encourage you to add a little honey to your words today?  It will not only sweeten your home, it provides an appetizing argument for the goodness of God’s ways.



  1. Jenny

    More like convinced. I’m in!

    • Mary Beth

      I’ll try serving up some honey tonight! Thanks for the advice.

      • Janet

        My pleasure – I’m always working on it myself!

    • Janet

      I love being “sisters-in-arms” in our speech battles!


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