“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)

I get it! Everyone is not a morning person. There are just some people you encounter on a daily basis that need space to wake-up. Allow them to get their morning java, diet coke, or energy drink. If not, you might encounter lions, and tigers, and bears—oh my!  But, even if you are not a morning person, there are some basic common courtesies you should follow “so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.”

First, it is proper to greet persons the first time you see them with “Good Morning,”  “How’s it going?” or, where I am from…“What’s up, Dog!” (“Dog”-a term of endearment in the hood. Similar to Jesus calling the Syrophoenician woman a “dog.” –No harm intended). Therefore, when you encounter church or office staff, people in church on Sunday morning, friends in seminary, guests, the Walmart greeter, etc., try to extend a gracious greeting. If that is all you can handle at the moment then just extend your greeting and keep it moving! At the very least, be cordial enough to speak.

Second, it would be wise to season our tongues with salt before we preach the gospel— Why? For the same reason we put salt on our food—to make our food taste better. The better it tastes, the more we want! We need to put spiritual salt on our tongues, so when we preach the gospel, we preach it in such a way that it is desirous and full of spiritual flavor! We need to  preach so “salty” that those in the pews are hungry and thirsty to hear more about the Good News! Therefore, a preacher should avoid name-calling, venting church problems, or using inappropriate language or gestures from the pulpit, so that our proclamation is seasoned with glorifying God and not self.

Finally, the Golden Rule still stands. If you want to be shown respect, then respect others. There is a way to get your point across and communicate with others without being disrespectful. The root of a lot of church conflict is that people of the faith fail to put salt on their tongue before they speak! As a result, their speech is not loving and gracious, but cold and callous.

The Apostle Paul spoke to the Corinthians on the importance of speaking the truth in love. “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians13:1-2).

In order to serve God in excellence and model good ministry manners, we must be willing to greet others, speak the truth in love, and let our speech always be gracious.

So, would somebody please pass the salt?

C. Lynn Brinkley serves as the director of student services and alumni relations at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina. Lynn is also an adjunct professor at Campbell and an ordained minister at First Baptist Church in Clinton.