When it comes to communication, I’m a work in progress. We all are! Because I’m in vocational ministry, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with all kinds of people. It’s been quite humbling and eye-opening.
I’ve experienced some amazing conversations and I’ve also experienced some very frustrating conversations. People are people. We all have stories and wounds, myself included!
A verse that has really challenged the way I try to speak with people is James 1:19-22.
My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves
Based on some truths from this Scripture and my own personal journey, here are some lessons I want to always be striving to apply:
- Try to listen more than you talk.
Listening is a form of communication. There is also a difference in hearing and listening. We hear things all day from every angle, but are we listening? When someone is sharing something with you, really try to be present. Try to put yourself in their shoes as much as possible. Don’t interrupt them (guilty!). People really value genuine, authentic conversations. In order for this to happen, listening is required.
- Acknowledge that you don’t know everything.
Pride is one of the biggest hinderances to healthy communication. When we go into a conversation with the intention of winning, we are already loosing the person. This is hard, but even start with trying to assume the best. I know that this is not always so cut and dry, but it helps when your intention is as pure as possible. Humble yourself. You don’t know exactly what each person is going through or has been through.
- Don’t react, respond.
This world is full of people that react. Just scroll through social media. Just watch the news. Just read the headlines. I view reacting and responding differently. As a Christian, my goal should be to respond to situations with prayer and seeking the Lord. When I react, I neglect those things and quickly do what I feel, which is usually not helpful – often leading to anger, bitterness and other things. Take a step back and be prayerful going into conversations and while you are having difficult conversations.
So, how can you apply God’s wisdom about communication from James 1:19-22 to your life? This is a constant journey for me, but the more I strive to communicate in a way that brings honor to the Lord, the more I find myself doing it, by God’s grace. I pray my lessons encourage you in your journey of communication.