I first heard this interesting idiom some years ago when a member of our small group was sharing how she was committed to keeping her husband’s name safe in her mouth. It stood out to me not only because it was powerfully figurative, but also because it stirred immediate introspection; “Is my wife’s name safe with me? What about my friends? What about my enemies?”
I am unsure of the origin of the phrase and Professor Google was not very forthcoming, but there appears to be a consensus on its meaning. When one’s name is safe in our mouths, we do not speak ill of him or her, we do not gossip, and we do not share his or her secrets. Basically, it means we have integrity and character.
Our faith traditions all have much to say on this matter. Scriptures are full of warnings about slander, gossip, and vindictive behaviors. We are instructed many times over to guard our tongues and show kindness to the other. Having high repute is not only significant to our moral constructs and spiritual disciplines either; there are social, emotional, and relational components as well. When we make a habit of honoring another, we train our minds to have gratitude, we find peace in the company of others, and we build the trust of our team. Others will know that we are safe and trustworthy and thus confidently open more opportunities before us.
In this season, let us be a people who can be trusted with relationship. May our partners know that their names are safe in our mouths, may our colleagues have confidence in our word, may we be trusted to honor our leaders, and may those whom we serve know that we honor them on the other side of the door. Blessings upon you and yours in the New Year!