Be Wary with Your Words

Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

Matthew 26:31-35

Many people relate to Peter, who seemed to speak before thinking. Full of passion and gusto, his mouth proceeded a careful thought-out process. A quote from Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton and Leighton Ford hit a nerve for me, and it might have done the same for Peter. It says, 

Even though we are accustomed to the strategic planning process and are in some cases quite drawn to it, the truth is that every time we have made decisions purely from strategic thinking without providing some space for discernment, we have gotten out ahead of ourselves and made mistakes. We have experienced this most clearly in our scheduling. When we look at things strategically, it always makes sense to schedule more events, but this usually means we end up with more than we can handle. However, when we listen to what God is saying to us in the deeper places of our being, we usually find that less is more and we can plan accordingly. (emphasis mine)

During a staff meeting, I read this quote and apologized to the team for being such a strategic planner that I had “over evented” the team and our partners. We had to endure through the upcoming events we announced, scraping by on under-resourced staff and budgets. We were tired and unavailable to what God wanted for us to do as a nonprofit.

Of course, Peter might have overcommitted to too many events, as well. 

This passage and Peter’s statement, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” reminds me that sometimes we all get ahead of God and His plans. We don’t stop to listen to what God is saying. In this case, Jesus states, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me” and yet Peter thinks his rebuttal will become reality. Did Peter considered the context or pausing to think through what his words might have meant for his future?

What strikes me is that the other disciples backed Peter. They, too, thought they would not fall away. Instead, they got swept away in the moment, the strategy, and the planning. They forgot to listen.

Two lessons formulate for me. 

  1. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. When you commit to something, be certain you can do it and it is within God’s plans. Which means, before you say yes, there needs to be a beat to check in with God. Is this event actually what He wants?
  2. Be careful when passion overrides logic. When passion undergirds a strong statement, others will follow the energy displayed. The words will become a movement.

The nonprofit sector is a marvel because causes and movements begin with strong statements. When the crowds go back to their daily lives, that’s the moment when a nonprofit leader must stay on course with what they said they were going to do. There’s no falling away from what an organization promises to do for people, their community, and their cause. Therefore, be wary with your words.

Order Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation, a 28-day devotional for people who are separated from their spouse because of marital struggles.

© 2023, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at

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