[GUEST POST] A Closed Mouth Won’t Get Fed

It’s easy to save the world until you realize (unless you have long money) that you have to actually depend on the kindness of others to feed your dream. As civic-oriented folks there is a certain assumed humility that stops us from asking for what we really need.

The biggest issue I find when working with new organizations or individuals called to be community leaders is their not their ability to articulate their wants and desires, but rather it is their inability to say what they need to get their work done. Honey, a closed mouth will not get fed!

So how do we start to get what we really need?…The following is a guest post submitted by Shavonta Arline, co-founder of The Virtuous Diva. While the post focuses on romance (some of us can us this too), I think we can all read between the lines and see how it also applies to our lives as a community of do-gooders. Just in case commentary in purple from me will help you out! _______________________________________________________________

Open Your Mouth!

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

One of the funniest scenes in Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America is when Prince Akeem meets his pre-arranged bride-to-be and begins asking her questions about her interests and likes. To each question, from “what do you like to do?” to “what is your favorite food?” the answer is the same, “whatever you like.”

Watching it is hilarious, Murphy is a comedic genius and it’s hard not to burst into laughter as the scene unfolds.

What’s not so funny, however, is how often we as women resist the urge to speak up about the things we need and desire when we should. Many of us have been raised in homes where we were trained to “keep the peace,” where expressing your desires or displeasure for something was frowned upon or considered disrespectful. Instead we have been conditioned to take whatever is given to us with a grateful smile. [Does this sound like us when we get donations but it’s not really what we want- or need for that matter??!]

As we grew older we may have carried this docile, compliant attitude into the workplace and gotten bullied or looked over for raises and promotions by people who have no issues with expressing what they want. [And you wonder why that non profit is thriving but yours is barely surviving!] More close to home, we often carry this same attitude into relationships with men. Many times when we don’t speak up, we end up feeling unfulfilled and sometimes resentful of our partner because we expect them to either magically know what we need or because we are simply reluctant to speak up because we fear rejection or abandonment. We suffer in silence when we could simply say “I don’t like that” or “I’d prefer this over that.” [Translation, we become wary in the mission of our work because we things aren’t getting the funding or in-kind donations we need.]

Holding your tongue when you really need to be heard is not the same as being agreeable or submissive as a wife [sub: non-profit] , and by that same standard, speaking up doesn’t mean you are contentious or difficult. Deuteronomy 28:13 declares that the Lord intends to make us the head and not the tail! God feels that we are important and so do many of the people we work with and love. However, it is the person in the mirror who frequently lowers your value and worth to appease others. We spend so much time trying to understand and meet the needs of others that we do not asses our own, and even when we do, we frequently deny them so as to not “rock the boat.” [Read that entire paragraph again. Then paste it to the wall of your office.]

If the people around you are seriously interested in knowing the things that make you happy, and unhappy, don’t be like ‘ol girl in Coming to America, instead, speak up and be heard. Remember the bible says in James 4:2 that “You do not have, because you do not ask.”

This week, consider ways in which you may be sabotaging your own happiness simply because you are afraid to open your mouth and be heard. Know that God did not give us the spirit of fear and He did not make you be invisible and unimportant. The next time someone you have the opportunity to express yourself, open your mouth!

In summation: The next time someone asks you what your organization needs, tell them. Otherwise, you’ll keep being just as hungry as the population you’re trying to feed.

Shavonta Arline is a co-founder of The Virtuous Diva and enjoys sharing her love for Lord to others through writing. She attended the University of Louisville where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and currently teaches elementary school in Dallas, Texas.

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5 thoughts on “[GUEST POST] A Closed Mouth Won’t Get Fed

  1. Great topic. I’ve really struggled with being ok with being seen and being heard. It sounds silly, doesn’t it? But really, my biggest challenge has been using my voice and my presence to make my impact on the world. Fortunately, I found a great coach and she’s helping me craft my Fearless Feminine Presence! Watch out world, there’s a lot of women out there like me who are about to change the world!

    1. I can relate Sharon. As assertive as I can be, I am also really reserved in some aspects- especially when I have to ask for things. :-/ I’ve gotten a lot better though. 🙂 Glad to hear you have a coach! That’s awesome! Keep me posted on your progress.

  2. “Speaking up doesn’t mean you are contentious or difficult.”

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. For a very long time I was content with being in the background, especially in my first two years of college. But then I noticed that those with the biggest mouths were getting things, while those with better ideas were ignored. And I didn’t like, at all. So, I started to speak up. It was scary at first. Telling a someone that their idea doesn’t make sense always is. Eventually I figured out that offering criticism without solutions or suggestions to correct the problem is just as bad as saying nothing at all. So then I starting offering critiques and solutions whenever I had something to say.

    I can’t tell you how empowering it is when others ask for my opinion and listen to it. I don’t I’m ever going back to being a passive observer.

    1. I understand Naeema! Like I told Sharon, it is a great feeling to be free! Lol. Speaking up gets you need very time. People aren’t mind readers so applause to you for doing your thing!

  3. Thank you all for the wonderful comments! I am so blessed to be able to share this inspiration with you. It is so important as women that we don’t disservice ourselves by keeping our mouths closed when we need to speak up! God bless

    -Shavonta

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