Taming our Tongues this Lent

30 Days to Taming your Tongue, by Deborah Smith Pegues.

Authentic Books, Secunderabad.

Indian edition reprint, 2015.

ISBN 978-817362-731-6. 141 pp, Price not indicated.


A book I chanced upon months ago is going to be part of my spiritual reading this Lent. It dwells on a very important aspect of fasting, or what the author calls a “tongue fast”. Deborah Smith Pegues’30 Days to Taming your Tongue is thus most appropriate for the remaining thirty-odd days of Lent.

You are bound to be tongue-tied when you run through the contents page: thirty chapters featuring thirty types of tongue you wouldn’t think existed. Here they go:

  • the lying tongue
  • the flattering tongue
  • the manipulating tongue
  • the hasty tongue
  • the divisive tongue
  • the argumentative tongue
  • the boasting tongue
  • the self-deprecating tongue
  • the slandering tongue
  • the gossiping tongue
  • the meddling tongue
  • the betraying tongue
  • the belittling tongue
  • the cynical tongue
  • the know-it-all tongue
  • the harsh tongue
  • the tactless tongue
  • the intimidating tongue
  • the rude tongue
  • the judgmental tongue
  • the self-absorbed tongue
  • the cursing tongue
  • the complaining tongue
  • the retaliating tongue
  • the accusing tongue
  • the discouraging tongue
  • the doubting tongue
  • the loquacious tongue
  • the indiscreet tongue
  • the silent tongue

Did you ever imagine a tongue could be so versatile? The list reads like progeny of one and the same tongue: notice they have the same “surname”!

Besides the theme, another feature that makes this book suitable for the season is that it is Scripture-based. In the prologue, the author quotes James 3:8: “No man can tame the tongue.” She states our hope is in “the Spirit of God”, to whom we must entrust the unruly member to be subjected on a daily basis.

How do we begin the process? The first step is to admit that we could be guilty of many of the negative uses of the tongue listed above; the truth will make us free. A Biblical quote at the head of each chapter is very reassuring. Then there are short stories, anecdotes, soul-searching questions and Scripture-based personal testimonies that combine to make each chapter a tongue- and life-changing experience. A positive affirmation or resolution at the end of each chapter rounds it off beautifully.

I am hopeful that a thirty-day crash course, or fast course, if you like, will give us a wholesome tongue, such that we will speak what is pleasing to God. The author, who is an experienced certified public accountant, Bible teacher, speaker, certified behavioural consultant specialising in understanding personality temperaments, writer and housewife of over twenty-five years’ standing, assures us that we will not be turned into “a Passive Patsy or a Timid Tom who avoids expressing personal boundaries, desires, or displeasure with a situation.” She recognises that most interpersonal problems will not be resolved without being confronted; however, there is a time and a way to say everything.

It may well take one less than a month to reading this valuable book; but I would love to go slow, meditating on each chapter. In the epilogue, the author recommends homing in “on areas where your mouth is particularly challenged.” One may have to spend several days or weeks on a lying tongue, for instance, and on a cursing tongue none at all.

To assess our daily progress there is a “tongue evaluation checklist” in Appendix A. Considering it more effective to focus on implementing positive behaviour than trying to avoid the negative, Appendix B offers over thirty “alternative uses of the tongue” that will bring glory to God and improve our interactions and relationships. Appendix C has passages comprising an “arsenal of tongue scriptures” that will fortify us and revolutionise our conversation.

The author very wisely remarks, “Teachers often teach that which they need to learn themselves.” And I say with the author, “I am no different.” Like her who wrote the book primarily for herself, I write this not as a review but primarily as a notice concerning a book that could help us to transform our tongues into a “wellspring of life.”

Miracles of Motivation

If you have ever wondered how others work miracles while we spend time ruing the past or cursing our present, be sure there is only a thin line of separation between those achievers and us. The difference lies in that they know where they are going, while we don’t; they now how to get there, while we are lost in the maze of life. What’s more, we haven’t the fuel that drives them, the fuel that goes by the name of Motivation.

What really is motivation? It’s a whole set of motives that prompts one to act in a particular way. These motives may come naturally to some people; they may have to be induced in others. Let’s say, a young man is naturally inclined to music or sports, and only a little towards academics. He may begin to show some discipline in life if he realizes that even a career in music or sports is academically rigorous.

That is to say, having a goal in sight can motivate us. Of course, happy are those who blend their natural inclination with a profitable life occupation, for they will be self-motivated. In fact, self-motivation is the best form of motivation for a student or employee; it dispenses with coaxing. There is nothing better than finding good reason to do what we are doing; even if difficulties come our way, we will find the way out and, for the love of the final goal, be on track again.

But this is only a model situation; it exists for a fortunate few, while the bulk of people may experience negativity – worry, disappointment, frustration. Motivation itself can feel contrived if there is an element of coercion. That is when one has to either refocus – if one has any stamina or presence of mind left – or one can seek help. Nowadays, counselling is only a step away, be in educational institutions or at workplaces. With a wee bit of interest and initiative, there can easily be a turnaround, and like the proverbial sunflower, we can bask in sunny glory once again.

All things considered, there seem to be two golden rules behind feeling a motivation boost: One, to believe in oneself, and the other, to work smartly. Believing in self is nothing but being grateful to the Good Lord who has made each of us unique. He calls us to open out, unfold, and expand our potentials, for there is none other who can do what we have been destined to do.

However, there is no short cut. Our life mission will be complete only when we have put in our all into what we are doing, keeping at it, without longing for a brainwave. To quote Edison: “Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.” Equally true what that other genius called Pasteur has said: “Chance favours the prepared mind.”

Motivation is a powerful engine; it can move mountains. All we have to do is keep working while we wait for the miracle to happen.

(News and Views, Vol. XI, No. 1, April 2016)