Giving the Candidates a Communication Filter

It is sad, when watching a Presidential debate becomes a dangerous activity for our children. When the “adults” on the screen are using words you don’t want children to pick up, it’s time to turn off the television. And it’s time to pray.

The Presidential candidates may not realize it, but Scripture provides an excellent guideline for communication:

[box]Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)[/box]

Several years ago I tried to begin implementing this verse and started using the “3-Question Principle” in communication. I first read it in a book by Amy Carmichael, but it wasn’t original with her. These three questions are simply a communication filter. Using this filter is really helpful if you want to have good communication.

If you’re a person who tends to speak before you think, you probably cause some damage with your words. Before you blurt out what you’re thinking, pause, and ask yourself: 

1)      Is it true?

2)      Is it necessary?

3)      Is it kind? 

Is it true?

Far too many times as a young woman, I justified rude, obnoxious, bluntly honest, criticisms that frequently spewed from my (far-too-often open) mouth. Any bystanders who might happen to be in the vicinity of my diatribes were leveled. I justified my honest jabs with the belief that: The TRUTH must be delivered!

How many times have we blown away loved ones by our insistence on opening our mouths to “let them have it” and followed the criticism with the salvo: “Well, it’s the truth!” 

I am a huge believer in speaking the truth. Where I can easily mess up though, is when I deliver truth without kindness, or when I deliver a truckload of truth that isn’t actually necessary.

Is it necessary?

Let’s say you’re out for an afternoon drive with your family. The person you’re following is driving erratically. It isn’t “necessary” to call them an “idiot” or any number of demeaning monikers. They may be an irresponsible driver, but is it “necessary” to fill the car with negative commentary about an individual (who is made in God’s image by the way) whom you’ve never even met?

What kind of example is that for your children?

Or if you’re driving alone, doesn’t that kind of verbiage add to the aggravation rather than filling you with peace?

Is it kind?

Or has anything like this ever happened? Your husband forges right ahead, ignoring your input on a business transaction, and it ends up bombing (just as you predicted). It may be true that you were right, but would it be kind (or necessary) to deliver that truth?

How can anyone benefit from the announcement, “I told you so!”? 

I’m not saying we should never confront others, but I think our communication should be driven by love, delivered in meekness, and intentionally used to glorify God.

Honesty with humility is the foundation for loving communication. 

The Presidential candidates may not be concerned about using a communication filter, but they should be. It is irresponsible to say whatever you want, and our words do have consequences.

Do you have some principles for communication that you’ve found helpful in your relationships?

I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment below!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/


  • Lisa

    Hi Kimberly,

    Thank you for your posts yesterday and today. I’m finding hope and encouragement there in regards to the election, but especially in regards to a struggle in my family.

    Recently, God has brought conviction to me that I have been a fool in the Proverbs sense of the word. Since getting married 9 years ago, my destructive patterns of communication have been hurtful to my family. My husband and I are in a process of healing, and God has been peeling away layers of selfishness in my life, which I am thankful for. I think one of the hardest things for our us is seeing how this has affected our eight year old daughter. I’m praying for restored relationships and trust within our family and that God will help me love my family better.

    Thank you for sharing the three filters for communication. That is timely and encouraging!

    In Christ,

    P.S. I’m about half way through Fierce Women and have found it

  • Julie Musil

    I just wrote down those three filters so I won’t forget them. I’m much better at filtering my speech now, but wow, there have been “scorched earth” words I wish were never spoken. Thanks for this reminder.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Lisa ~

    Thank you for taking time to share your heart here. I’m so thankful that you’re in the process of healing. Don’t be discouraged if that process seems to move slowly, God is faithful. As you seek Him for grace to walk under the Spirit’s control, applying the truth of the Word to your need, He will supply all that you need to glorify Him:

    “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).

    Praying for your relationship with your daughter, the years between eight and eighteen fly quickly. I hope you’ll apply some of the principles you’re learning in “Fierce Women” in your relationship with her. Gracious, humble communication delivered in love, can establish a deep bond of loyalty between a mom and daughter. Be quick to seek forgiveness when you recognize that you’ve harmed her.

    So thankful you’ve plugged in here, hope to hear more from you!