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Controlling Your Tongue

Controlling Your Tongue

In a discussion based on her book 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, best-selling author Deborah Smith Pegues describes how we can improve our relationships and honor God in the process by becoming more wise in what we say – and don't say – to others.
Original Air Date: July 23, 2018


Jim Daly: Mark was a successful businessman, but his marriage was in serious trouble.

Mark: All these things are supposed to be good things: making money and buying things and adding to the house. And it was just a disaster between Michelle and I.

Jim: I’m Jim Daly, and we need your support now more than ever to help people like Mark. Your support of Focus on the Family here at the end of the year is urgently needed. We’re falling behind our goals to be able to meet the needs of families in the coming year. And because of some generous friends, when you give today, your donation will be doubled. So please call now: 1-800-A-FAMILY. That’s 1-800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.


Deborah Pegues: So I like to give people a challenge to go the next 24 hours – don’t express any displeasure with anything, not the traffic, not the weather, nothing that you can’t do anything about.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That’s Deborah Pegues, and you’ll hear more from her on today’s Best of 2018 Focus on the Family broadcast. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller, and thanks for joining us.

Jim: Now, John, we’ve made it through December. 2018’s in the rear-view mirror, and now we’re moving into 2019 and looking at this brand new year ahead of us. And the new year’s always a good time for self-examination. I’m sure many of us have made some goals either related to weight or maybe doing that morning devotional consistently – something like that. This conversation today is going to, I think, inspire you to do all those things, particularly when it comes to the way you interact with others, which might be one of your resolutions. Right? Treat people a little better than maybe I did last year.

Deborah spoke with us about how to tame the tongue. And that’s probably one of the hardest things to do if we really think about it. Of course, it’s not the tongue, it’s what’s underneath it – our hearts. Of course, the tongue is the deliverer of the message, but it really comes down to our heart and what our minds are thinking about the world around us. God wants us to get control of that for a very good reason. We are reminded throughout the Bible to do everything without complaining or arguing. Not something…

John: Everything!


Jim: I’m looking at John. Everything!

John: Oh no! Why are you looking at me when you say that?

Jim: ‘Cause you’re right here.

John: Okay.


Jim: But that…

John: I won’t complain about it.

Jim: I know, and that mandate, in and of itself, could take us a lifetime to accomplish. It’s part of the sanctification process. You mature over time. That’s the goal. With God’s help and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we can improve substantially in this area to take control, take captive that nasty tongue, and actually bless people with it rather than curse people with it.

John: And if this is a struggle for you, like it might be for me, then just please know, Focus on the Family is here for you. We have caring, Christian counselors if you’re really struggling in this. We also have great resources like Deborah’s book: 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue. Stop by or give us a call: 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. And Deborah is a certified public accountant, a Bible teacher, a speaker, an author. She’s written a number of books, and this is perhaps one of the most convicting topics that we’ve covered on the program. Your response made that clear. It really resonated with you, so let’s go ahead and pick up now, this Best of 2018 Focus on the Family broadcast.


Jim: Why do you think people have resonated with your message?

Deborah: Well, first of all, I think it’s because God took a mess and turned it into a message because I wrote the book…


Jim: I like that.

Deborah: …Because I messed up. I mean, it was – it’s an accidental book. But I don’t like to use that word – accidental – when I’m talking about the things of God, so I’m gonna say it’s a providential book. But I really messed up and told something I wasn’t supposed to tell. And I wasn’t being indiscreet. I was just trying to rescue somebody. And so – and it backfired. I was trying to help somebody out, blah, blah, blah. It backfired, and she was so upset with me. I decided to go on a tongue fast myself. I’m gonna put myself on a plan for 30 days, and I’m not gonna say anything negative. Now – now, just try that, all right?

Jim: So this was for you in the end.

Deborah: It was – it was a personal project for me only.

Jim: I appreciate that vulnerability because I…

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: A lot of people would say, “Yeah, I wrote it for a friend.”


Deborah: No, I wrote it for me. And people kept – and I would put signs in my office at work. It would say “Tongue Fast.” That means when you come in here, don’t discuss anything negative. I’m on tongue fast. If people started to be negative, I’d say, “I can’t discuss that.” And so somebody said, “I believe God wants you to write a book.” No, I believe God wants me to work on me.

Jim: Okay. And…

Deborah: So I finally did.

Jim: And this really is capturing that journey…

Deborah: Yeah, absolutely.

Jim: …And what you did.

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: Now, why are we so – broadly, why are we all so affected with tongue problems? I mean, it’s so natural for us in our flesh to lash out, to say things we regret.

Deborah: It is.

Jim: Why?

Deborah: Because we are human and also because we’re not, uh, created carbon copies of each other. And so we don’t always know other people’s sensitivities. You know, you may jokingly say something about my dark skin. You may not know that I am just like, oh, don’t say that or whatever. You just never know what people’s sensitivities are. And so you are bound to offend somebody.

Jim: Yeah. Even though you’re challenging us for 30 days, you started to say, “You know, just try it for 24 hours.” I want…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …You to finish that challenge…

Deborah: Okay. So…

Jim: …Because I – I think you’re going to say it’s hard.

Deborah: I was gonna say that at the end, but I’ll say it now because – don’t think you can do all 30 of these, uh, tongues that I’ve listed in the book. I have 30 negative uses of the tongue.

Jim: So one for each day?

Deborah: Just try one a day, or just try one a week.

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: Just – for instance, if you have trouble telling the whole truth – you tend to tell half the truth – just say, “This week, I’m gonna tell the whole truth and nothing but. I’m not gonna imply something that’s not true.” Here’s an example: I tend to run late for things sometimes. And I’ll just come in…


Deborah: Now, In LA, you know, I would rush in and go, “Uh, traffic.”

Jim: Yeah, it’s always…

Deborah: Now, I didn’t say I was in traffic.

Jim: …A good excuse, yeah.

Deborah: I didn’t say I was in traffic. I just said, “traffic”.


Half-truth. My husband said, “Listen, the half-truth is a whole lie.”

Jim: Wow, that’s good.

Deborah: Yeah. And so – but, see – you see subtle ways that we can, like, not tell the truth. And so we all have negative uses of the tongue. So I – I – when I started this project, I said I’m gonna look up every negative use of the tongue I can find in the Bible. I’m gonna buy scriptures for them. And then I’m gonna put a challenge out there to refrain from it. So that’s what I did.

Jim: Yeah, and that’s good. And we’re gonna cover some of those.

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: One is the know-it-all tongue. Now, the people that – the know-it-all people just went, “No! Don’t…”

John: Yeah.

Jim: “…Cover that one!”


Jim: So…

John: We already have this one. Move on to the next, please.

Jim: Yeah. What is the know-it-all tongue?

Deborah: Where you just can’t even receive from anybody else. For every subject that comes up, you have the final word on it, even if you in Bible study and there’s been a great lesson laid out. And you’ll say, “But what we have to really remember above all” – it’s like, no, we don’t. That’s not above all.


Jim: You even have the vocabulary for this.

Deborah: No, really. Or – here’s a funny thing – when we’re buying a car – because I deliberately like to let people teach me things. I just think it makes them feel better…

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: …Especially if they…

Jim: Even if you already know it is a point.

Deborah: If you already know it. And, see, that’s a big challenge.

Jim: That’s hard…

Deborah: It’s hard…

Jim: …To do.

Deborah: …To let – especially for a man.

Jim: Yes.

Deborah: It’s hard.

Jim: You want to be the teacher. I’ve been here…

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: …Son.

Deborah: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s…

Jim: Let me show you how to change…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …That tire.

Deborah: So sometimes when we’re buying a car or something, and they’ll talk down to me because I’m the little woman, I think it’s so funny because I am a CPA. And they’ll explain that, you know, with interest – you know, the payment has interest and principal. I think that is so funny. I have an MBA in finance. I can do an amortization schedule in my head. And I’ll say okay – and I’ll just act like they’re telling me something.

Jim: It’s hard to bite your tongue in that case.

Deborah: Well, but if you choose to – because let me tell you why you want to do that – it’s pride. You don’t want anybody think you don’t know something. It’s this fear of appearing to be inadequate.

Jim: Yes.

Deborah: So no, no, I’m adequate. I know that already.

Jim: That’s true. I think, for men, it’s hard to say I don’t know, if I could be blunt. It’s hard to say that. And that is something we gotta get over.

Deborah: And there are…

Jim: I’m working on it.

Deborah: There are examples of it in the Bible.

Jim: That should be the one – the 30-day challenge of saying I don’t know…

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: …That’s what I’m gonna do.

Deborah: Right, yeah. It’s okay.

Jim: What about in marriage – how does this know-it-all tongue tend to play out in marriage?

Deborah: Well, I tell you my…

Jim: Ouch.

Deborah: …What my mentor told me when she said – um, when I was engaged to Darnell, and she was in a car with us one day. We were discussing something. And she said, “Okay, Missy” – (laughter) – “we know you’re smart, but don’t know everything.” She said, “Let him know some things.”

Jim: That is good.


Deborah: And I’m thinking to myself, “Yeah, I plan to let him know some things.”


Jim: Starting right now.

Deborah: Right, starting right now. But I took that to heart. Let him know some things. You don’t have to jump in there and say, I’ll – I can do that. You know, you just don’t have to do that. That’s pride. And you got to (unintelligible).

Jim: Well, there are teenagers though.


You might want to straighten some of them out.

Deborah: Oh, yes, absolutely.

Jim: Now – okay, now the argumentative tongue.

Deborah: Oh, boy.

Jim: Oh, is this one hitting a little…

Deborah: No, I grew up in a family…

Jim: …A little spot there?

Deborah: …That liked to argue. My – I have – I have relatives that arguing is their norm.

Jim: Okay, so let me ask that – the – so your family of origin, how you grow up could shape some of these…

Deborah: Absolutely. Because…

Jim: …Tongue maladies?

Deborah: …You could – you could become like that, or you could come – become the complete opposite. I decided I didn’t want to be argumentative because I just thought it – an argument should have a resolution…

Jim: You’re right.

Deborah: …Not just keep going in a circle. Because that’s how my parents argued. And they just – I never saw them really resolve something and say, “Okay, from now on, this is how we’re gonna go forward.” It would just become circular. They’d just go into the next level of an argument. And I just think when people do that it’s because I think they may be feeling insecure about what they do know.

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: Why do you need to argue that? I have a brother who likes to argue the Bible. Um, I don’t argue the Bible. I just tell you what part I embrace, which is all of it. And if you choose not to, that’s fine.

Jim: That sounds pretty definitive.


Jim: But it’s true. And I can – you know, I can understand that. I think you can create an environment of arguing.

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: And some people might even say that’s a positive because you want to be able to stand on firm ground, you want to be able to defend your positions.

Deborah: And you should. You should be able to defend your faith, but you don’t have to be mean about it.

Jim: Well, that’s true.

Deborah: I think that’s what’s wrong even in politics. I’m – you know, this last election just split a lot of relationships.

Jim: Sure.

Deborah: And I’m thinking I’m friends with everybody. I embrace everybody’s right to believe what they want to believe. I don’t…

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: I don’t – why do you have to believe the way I do?

Jim: Well, okay, that’s a good place to put that argumentative tongue. What about, again, in marriage? Let me apply this here. When you have the spouse – and I’m not gonna say it’s the wife or the husband…

Deborah: Right.

Jim: …Just the spouse who – who is just constantly picking a fight, what do you do? What if you’re the receiver of that? What advice do you have for that spouse to say, “Honey, can you stop chewing me up? I’m not processing at your speed. I’m not – you’re just killing me here.”

Deborah: Well, I think you need to agree quickly with your adversary.


Jim: Yeah, right.

Deborah: As the Bible talks about it, agree quickly with your adversary. So if my husband and I are in a discussion, I will say, “I hear you.” You see, I don’t – I don’t give any fuel to that. I’ll say, “I hear you.” If he’s putting forth a point, and if I don’t – I hear you does not mean I agree with you. It means I literally hear you.

Jim: Right.

Deborah: But that helps because…

Jim: But it reduces the friction.

Deborah: It does because half the part of resolving an argument is for that person to feel like they’ve been heard and you are validating their point. So I hear you will do that.

Jim: Huh.

Deborah: I hear you. And then I can say, “We can just agree to disagree.”

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: That’s what makes us so, so unique. We’re different.

John: Deborah Pegues is our guest on Focus on the Family today. And 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue – it’s sold over a million copies. If you don’t have it, get a copy of it.

Jim: That’s right.

John: Get a CD or a download of this conversation at, or give us a call. We’d be happy to tell you more: 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Deborah, the complaining tongue – I mean, again, these are societal problems right now.

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: We seem to relish complaining.

Deborah: All of us.

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: It’s contagious.

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: And we gotta be sensitive to it. That’s why I call this a fast, where you become keenly aware of your tendency to engage in these negative behaviors. And complaining is so natural. I don’t care – you can be in a market, and everybody’s – well, here’s a good example – in the bank – in the bank – oh, the line is long or whatever. And for people who still go to the bank…

Jim: Yeah, I was gonna say…

Deborah: Most of us do online banking.

Jim: …Do you go in the bank? I don’t think I’ve…

Deborah: Well, some people do that…

Jim: …Been in a bank…

Deborah: …You know.

Jim: …In years.

Deborah: You know, like, in years, you got to go there. Or I have to send…

John: Stood in the line for too long.

Deborah: I have to send money off to realtor’s in distress, so you have to go to Wal-Mart or somewhere and stand in that line. I hate it. But, you know, but the complaint is, like, oh – now, I’m thinking you are standing here because you have access to resources. Do you know that half the world lives on less than $2 a day?

Jim: So they have…

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: …Full cup, you know.

Deborah: Right.

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: So – but here’s the deal – you gotta become aware of your complaining. And I think that we could actually park on this and spend an hour talking about it because it is so easy. So I like to give people a challenge to go the next 24 hours – don’t express any displeasure with anything, not the traffic, not the weather, nothing that you can’t do anything about. And in the Scriptures, the Psalmist says, “I poured out my complaint before the Lord.” If the person you’re complaining to can’t do anything about it, stop talking.

Jim: Yeah. I struggle with that. I mean, Jean and I get home and, you know, something’s gone wrong, and I’m complaining about it. So I’ll fess up my 24 hours, as well, so we can all take a look at our…

Deborah: And it takes…

Jim: …Achievement.

Deborah: …Your joy. It takes your joy away. And as a Christian, that’s not the image we want to portray. That’s not the example we want. We want to be people who are – who – we bless the Lord at all times. The joy of the Lord is our strength.

Jim: I’ll – here’s one that’s funny for us. Uh, I remember when I first started at Focus on the Family, it was 1989.

Deborah: Wow.

Jim: That is a long time ago. And I was on a training mission with another person, and we were out, and we went to a rental car counter to get the car. And they had no cars. And it was just out of a comedy, you know, situation. And so the person who’s training me – from Focus on the Family – was kind of upset, you know, with the agent, saying, “Well, I reserved a car. Why wouldn’t you have a car for me?” And, yeah, it was a little heated. And, “You know, are you gonna…”

Deborah: Wow.

Jim: “…Get a car?” And the person finally brought all the information up on the screen. And they said, “Oh, Focus on the Family – I love Dr. Dobson…”

Deborah: Whoops.

Jim: “…And Focus on the Family.” And this person went, “Oh, great, that’s so wonderful.”


I mean, their tone changed like this.

Deborah: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: I mean, and that was a great lesson for me to bite my tongue, you know, when – on an airline problem or a rental car…

Deborah: Absolutely.

Jim: …Problem. I’m trying to always behave myself because you never know when they’re going to say, “Oh, I listen to you on the radio.”

Deborah: Okay, now lest I sound like a walking Bible, let me tell you this is what keeps me from complaining – Romans 8:28: “All things are working together for my good.” Now, I – it may not look like it, but if I stop and tell myself that – this delay is working for my good, this traffic is working for my good, God is protecting…

Jim: That’s a hard one…

Deborah: …Me from something.

Jim: …To believe. Come on.

Deborah: No, really, I do it. I do it.

Jim: This traffic’s working for my good?

Deborah: Oh, this traffic – I’m – you know, and I don’t care if I get up there two hours later and see an accident. Well, that could have been me if that car hadn’t cut in front of me and…

Jim: There you go.

Deborah: …Slowed me down.

Jim: All right.

Deborah: You know, so we gotta believe that.

Jim: It’s…

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: It’s a good way to look at things.

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: Let’s go to the self-absorbed tongue. I mean…

Deborah: Oh, my.

Jim: …That one’s – that’s tough to say with your tongue. But, uh, the self-absorbed tongue, what are you describing there?

Deborah: I’m describing a person who’s always talking about himself.


Jim: The “me” monster.

Deborah: They’re not interested in you – you know, on what you’re about and your dreams and hopes. They’re just talking about all the wonderful things that happened to them. “Oh, my book, 30 Days to Tame Your Tongue, has sold a million copies, and I’m in Denver doing six media interviews,” and I’m just – me, me, me, me.

Jim: Can I ask you, though, at the core of that is deep insecurity.

Deborah: Deep insecurity.

Jim: So there’s more stuff going on there. So how…

Deborah: Absolutely.

Jim: How does the person – let’s again go to the spouse. You’re married to that person.

Deborah: Okay.

Jim: How – you’ve noticed this. You obviously said yes. But how do you begin to say, “Honey, have you ever really just recorded what you’re saying? Have you ever heard yourself and what you’re saying?” How do you go about helping each other grow?

Deborah: I would take the sandwich approach. You always say something positive, then you give them the meat of the matter. And you can say, “Listen, I just love that God has blessed you in so many areas. He’s just caused you to achieve in so many areas, or so many great things are happening. Are you aware of the fact that other people may not be as blessed, and it may not be very endearing to them to hear all about you like that?”

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: And so you might want to focus on other people. Ask them questions. And show them how to do it. You know? “So tell me about your background. Where did you grow up?”

Jim: Yeah, and it’s so – people love to engage and talk…

Deborah: They do.

Jim: …About themselves.

Deborah: And we gotta watch that so that we – and we listen to it and be genuinely interested.

Jim: Now here’s the greatest challenge on Earth. When you have children, and especially – again, I’ll just go to the teen years – uh, that’s an important parenting tool – how to ask questions of your teenager…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …Rather than just – and really thoughtful questions, not how did school go today?

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: Because that’s grunt, yeah, good…

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: …You know.

Deborah: Even you ask them, “Who’s your favorite teacher? Why? What do you like about her style?”

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: Who – what teacher do you not like the most? What do you not like about that?

Jim: And why not?

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: And then don’t be judgmental about it.

Deborah: Don’t be judgmental.

Jim: “Well, that’s a great teacher!”

Deborah: Just listen. Yeah, don’t…

Jim: “You need to learn math!”

Deborah: Yeah, yeah.



Jim: It’s fun.

Deborah: Two ears, one mouth. Listen.

Jim: There you go. You also mentioned a moment ago the half-truth tongue. I really appreciate all these wonderful tongue twisters that you give us…


The half-truth tongue. Elaborate on that a little bit more. I like that idea of – prevarication is…

Deborah: Of telling – okay.

Jim: …What the Scripture calls it.

Deborah: Well, we don’t think we lie, do we?

Jim: No. Well it’s not a full lie…

Deborah: It’s just kind of what it is.

Jim: …It’s just a half-lie…

Deborah: It’s a half-lie. But as my husband said, “A half-truth is a whole lie.”

Jim: Yeah, embellishing.

Deborah: But I used to be the queen of that. I would just tell half the truth. If I had to take off from work and take my mom to the doctor, I only needed, like, 4 hours. But I would just take off the rest of the day because like, oh, I had to take my mom to the doctor…

Jim: Do you think…

Deborah: But I did take my mom to the doctor…

Jim: Right…

Deborah: It didn’t take all day, but…

Jim: Do you think…


Jim: I’m saying that because I think in the Christian community, we really pour ourselves into this one because we can get – we think we’re getting away with it. But the Lord sees that, and He doesn’t want that. He wants us to be honest and straightforward. I guess the question then becomes are we a culture that struggles with honest and straightforward?

Deborah: We struggle with sin. Period. And if we’re not conscious of it – which is why I like for people to go on these 30-day periods of abstinence from certain things because it sensitizes you to where you are, you know? And we all have areas of – our tongue, especially – that we could be less critical. We could be less a whole bunch of things. And so we – if we tend to tell half the truth, understand that it’s displeasing to God. And if you want to read a story just kind of like that with Ananias and Sapphira, who sold their land in the book of Acts. And they said because everybody else was selling land and donating – it was such a culture there that everybody was sharing. And they said, “Yeah, we sold ours.” But they told a lie. They did sell it, but they lied about how much they sold it for. They kept back part of it. And God struck them dead. Now…

Jim: I think a lot of people that read – they go, “Wow, that’s pretty harsh.”

Deborah: You know what I mean? That’s pretty harsh. But I think God would send a precedent to say, “Listen, this – we’re not going to tolerate these…”

Jim: Don’t mess with this.

Deborah: Yeah.

John: Yeah.

Deborah: No. We need to tell the truth. Foundationally, we need to – we make the base the church on the truth.

Jim: Well, and I just want people to make – and me to hear from you that, you know, course correction is okay, God. That’s truth, and…

Deborah: Absolutely.

Jim: …That’s something that God wants us to do to encourage each other. Even Paul writes about that, too, to…

Deborah: Right.

Jim: …finish the race strongly, to rise up to the right standards.

Deborah: And when you – whenever you can, encourage rather than criticize. And I think that is just so critical because it impacts other people’s progress. When – and when you read the story of Miriam in the Bible, where they criticize Moses and then God struck her with leprosy, the whole place came to a standstill. They couldn’t move. Nobody could move forward. And I say that’s a lesson there because when you are critical like that, it really impedes other people’s progress.

Jim: Right.

Deborah: And so one of the things we can do – and in the book I talk about the fact that not only should you refrain from these 30 negative uses, but find 30 ways to be more positive, encourage somebody, to say yes, you can do this. Let me tell you a story. I have a friend who lives – whose husband is very mean. And I called her one day. And I said, “I just want to tell you that your merchandise is good.” I was studying Proverbs 31. And I said – she perceives that her merchandise is good. “I want to let you know that you have good merchandise.” And she said she kept that message on her phone for, like, forever almost.

Jim: That’s amazing…

Deborah: Because she wanted to hear that…

Jim: Just that little bit of…

Deborah: …Validation…

Jim: …Encouragement.

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah. What kind of trigger do you use? And I guess for temperament reasons, you know, you have a more negative temperament to a more positive temperament. So the more positive person – it’s gonna come more naturally.

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: So speak to both of that. What kind of trigger do you use to say, “Whoop, I’m going to bite my tongue. I’m not going to say that negative thing I thought of”? And you’re doing this in milliseconds…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: And you’re gonna say something positive and encouraging…

Deborah: Right.

Jim: What trigger do you use to make sure you…

Deborah: Well, here’s my trigger. The Holy Spirit will often tell you, “Don’t say that!” You know?


It’s like a caution light. He’s like, “Okay. You need to stop talking about the mess up.” And then, sometimes, – and I have to tell you I don’t always – I – sometimes, I run the light. I violate it, especially if somebody’s not doing a great job. And I hate this because I’m thinking that’s not brain surgery. And I’ve actually said that, but I didn’t know what a negative impact that had on somebody, to one of my former employees. He lied about his qualifications, and he couldn’t do the job. And I looked at him one day. And I said, “That’s not brain surgery. How hard is that?” Well, that’s like saying idiot.

Jim: That’s a cutting remark.

Deborah: Yeah. And I didn’t realize that…

Jim: But I could be right with you.

Deborah: But it wiped him out. I didn’t know that. I’m…

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: …Thinking, “Well, you shouldn’t have lied about the job. The least I’m going to do is give you a tongue lashing. You shouldn’t have lied about it…”

Jim: You know, again, a lot of people are going to say, “That was reasonable Deborah. Why…”

Deborah: No, that wasn’t, though.

Jim: “…Are you beating yourself up?” I know, but some people will say…

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: So how do we need to interpret that it wasn’t? Because there’s a logic to that, too…

Deborah: The tone, the put-down when you say, “Everybody knows that,” what do you say? “Except you, idiot.”

Jim: Okay. So let’s back the tape up…

Deborah: Let’s back the tape up.

Jim: Play that forward how it should’ve been done…

Deborah: And I said, “Okay. He didn’t post the receivables right” when I was working as a CFO at this place. And I said, now I – you know, I shouldn’t said, “How hard is that?” I’m going to say, “What aspect of this did you find confusing?” Because I could use that as a teaching moment…

Jim: Right.

Deborah: …Rather than a moment to beat him up…

Jim: And you don’t add this – “that obviously confused you…”

Deborah: Right.


Yeah. Right. Yeah. So, “What part of this do I need to – did I not make clear or…”

Jim: That is so good, though.

Deborah: “…What part do you need more clarity?” I could ask that question if I had stopped, and if I thought about it and prayed about it before I said it. But sometimes, you’re so frustrated when you’re so goal-oriented. And that’s why when you are a high achiever, you have to watch your tongue more…

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: …probably than anybody else.

Jim: Well, and you think about – that the immediate response is “Wouldn’t this be a better world?” But think of this. Wouldn’t it be a better church…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …If we had these principles down? Talk about the retaliating tongue because that’s one we need to cover here at the very end…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …Because that’s – it’s so easy to fall into that spot.

Deborah: And especially in marriage because you have to – retaliate means to return the punishment.

Jim: So you keeping score?

Deborah: Yeah. You’re keep keeping score. And you – and if he says something, I’m gonna say something. Why do you need to return the punishment rather than seeking first to understand?

Jim: So I will win, Deborah.


Deborah: But have you won?

Jim: No, in the end you lose…

Deborah: Right. You lose…

Jim: …Everything.

Deborah: You lose because words never die.

Jim: Right.

Deborah: And that’s what we have to remember. Words never die. They’re gonna last like – they’re going to be like shrapnel in that person’s brain. So you don’t need to return the punishment. You need to seek first to understand. Why don’t you turn that into an opportunity to say, “Could you explain more what you mean by that?” And even if it was mean, the person said something that was mean, you need to say, “You know, your tone really hurt me.”

Jim: Yeah…

Deborah: It’s okay to be vulnerable and say that that – “Those words really hurt me. And I would really wish you would think about it next time.”

Jim: If you think about this, what’s so good is this applies to every area of your life…

Deborah: Every area…

John: Every relationship, yeah…

Jim: In your marriage, in your parenting, in your work relationships, in your friendships. I mean, this is a secret to living a blessed life…

Deborah: Absolutely. And…

Jim: …And a good life.

Deborah: …Words flame our relationships. So whether we’re at work, our words – you can encourage your boss and become one of his favorite people.

Jim: Oh, you will. That’s for sure…

Deborah: You will. Try it. It works. I’ve done this to my husband. The other day, I said, “You know what I like about you?” And he’s so used to me being positive for a reason. He said, “Uh-oh. Is this a setup for you to ask me a question?”


Jim: There’s a list coming, right? Saturday’s list is on its way…

Deborah: He said, “I don’t know about you…”

Jim: Fix the door. We’re back to that, John. Fix the door. Noooo!

John: Yeah. You can’t escape it. Just call somebody…


Jim: Deborah, this is so good. What’s the end of that story?

Deborah: Well, I wasn’t about to give him a list. I just heard about a guy who was not as sensitive to his wife’s needs as mine. And I wanted to tell him that I was so – appreciate the fact that he was…

Jim: Good.

Deborah: …Because he thought I was setting him up…

Jim: Yes.

Deborah: …To ask him something…

Jim: Every man will.


Deborah: Because it was Saturday.

John: But it was a true compliment.

Deborah: It was a true compliment, and he liked it later. But he said, “Oh, I thought that was a setup so that you could ask me to do something.”


John: Well this has been a Best of 2018 Focus on the Family conversation with Deborah Pegues. And it’s been convicting. I hope you’ll join me in taking up her challenge to tame the tongue and really think about what we say before we say it.

Jim: Man, every time Deborah’s with us, she brings such good biblical insight and wisdom and practicality too. That’s why, I think, she’s one of our most popular guests. Here at Focus on the Family, we want to help you in your faith so that you can be a better husband or wife. That’s the goal. Maybe a better dad or mom. We have answers and practical solutions to the questions that you have. And believe me, we all have ‘em.

For over 40 years now, Focus has been helping families with great tools and resources like website articles, marriage and parenting books, and even the daily broadcast where we talk with you each and every day about some aspect of marriage, parenting, or your Christian walk. We bring you information that will strengthen your relationship with each other and with the Lord.

In fact, let me share a story about a woman who caught a broadcast about strife within marriage. This is what she wrote: “I cannot contain the idea of how great our God is and how He works. Your program this morning has me stunned. I’m a complete mess of tears and guilt and pain. My 15-year-old daughter and I are living alone in an apartment. Her father, my husband, is across our small town. I’m so grateful for your message that was shared this morning. Just what I needed in order to keep going. I’m not alone. God hasn’t left me. Thank you so much for your program. It was from our Father, and it has been received.”

John: Oh man, I love it when God takes what we’ve talked about here at the table and He meets somebody right at a point of need. You could hear the hurt in that woman’s heart.

Jim: That’s true. He is there for everybody. And when you support Focus on the Family with your prayers and your generous donations, you are empowering and allowing us to continue to provide this kind of trusted advice to families just like yours. And I ask that you partner with us today, the last day of 2018.

I don’t normally come to you with such a pressing need, but our situation is urgent because we’re falling behind with the resources we need to help more families in 2019. If we don’t hear from you, we won’t have the ability to address that growing demand. Outreaches such as our counseling department, parenting resources, and even marriage restoration efforts may all suffer because of that. We need your prayers and financial help to finish this year strong and be ready for a new year of ministering to families. Your support will determine how many families we can reach. It’s that simple.

The good news is that right now, because of a few special friends, your gift will go twice as far through our Gift of Family matching opportunity. God will use your donation to work through Focus on the Family and help families to thrive in Christ. With your gift today – and no amount is too small, trust me – we’ll send you a copy of Deborah Pegues’ book, 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, as our way of saying thank you for doing your ministry through Focus to transform lives in the name of Christ. And believe me, we can’t do this without you. Let’s do it together in the name of Jesus.

John: And you can donate and request your copy of Deborah’s book, 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, and also get our CD set – our Best of 2018 broadcasts – or get it as an audio download. All of this online at or when you call 800-232-6459 – 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Well of course, Happy New Year to you! Join us tomorrow as we kick-off 2019 by hearing from recording artist, Larnelle Harris, celebrating the ordinary people who helped create an extraordinary life.


Larnelle Harris: But those grandmas and grandpas and teachers, um, administrators, spoke life. So people ask me, “Why – why did you write the book?” Because of them.

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