Sunday, July 29, 2012

A soft word: communication help for the hapless.

Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Matthew 5:37
But let your communication be, YeayeaNaynay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

We Christians are commanded to be honest in all that we do and say. We fight our human nature, which- if we're honest- desires to protect itself and lift itself up. 

We take great pride in "saying what we mean and meaning what we say." Yet, in relationships with others, this prideful bluntness can be very harmful. It can drive wedges between us and our co-workers, our spouses, our family, our friends, and our fellow Christians. It has destroyed careers and decimated families and churches alike. 

We love to say, "let your yeas be yea, and your nays be nay." When we say that, many times there's a smug self righteousness that sneaks through and is heard by others. What they hear is, "I'm gonna say what I feel. I don't care how you feel about it at all."

Proverbs 15:1, I believe, is the key to better communication. It is the method by which we can BOTH say what we mean AND not alienate most of who listens to what we have said.

While it is true that somethings we say, especially Biblical things, will hurt some people's feelings. This is a given no matter how nicely we try and word things. In these situations we need to remember: Proverbs 27:6
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Some folks just need the unadulterated truth, even if it hurts them. We cannot short cut the word of God in favor of someones feelings- no matter how much we love them. 

By the same token, however, we cannot go around swinging our sword at all who come near. This hack and slay approach may make you feel good about how much you know and are telling the "godless heathens" around you. But, it truly won't win the vast majority to your cause. If you're married, or soon to be, then swinging your sword isn't going to gain you any good will with your spouse.

When we are speaking to others, we need to be prayerful about it and try to be led by the spirit of God in what we say and do. Instead of angry retorts, try rewording what you're saying in a way that both lets them know you care and helps them see what you're saying from a different angle.

We men, as heads of the home, truly struggle with this. There is a tendency for us to parade around as "the master of all we survey" in our homes. God has named us head of the home (understood to our male ego's as "Lord of the Castle") and "by God, they had better do what I say." This attitude belittles your spouse (who is your helpmate, not your doormat) and will drive your children away from you as well. 

Rather than giving orders, try prayerfully explaining your ideas and allowing both their feedback and (if there's time) time to pray and think about it, as well. Instead of telling them what they will and won't do "because I say so", explain your reasons for your conclusions and allow them to ask questions. They may see things in a way that helps YOUR understanding, as well. 

While the husband does have the final say (in Jesus) on what can and cannot happen with his family, it is far better (and easier) to do things in agreement. In this way you truly LEAD your family. You're not trying to force them into your will. Even God allows us freedom of choice.

Granted there are times in which you will have to put your foot down, or make a decision that only you agree with- making your family upset. However, when those times come, they'll be far easier for you than if all you do is force your will down the throats of your loved ones. Remember, scripture says that, Proverbs 11:14
"Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety."

If you allow your family, especially your spouse, to be a part of your decisions, they are far more likely to follow you when they disagree. 

Major decisions, if possible, need to be done only in family unity. If all do not have peace about it, then take the time to re-examine and re-pray about it. Minor decisions, too, should be made together as much as possible. 

We have a hard enough time battling the influences of the world and our enemy without forcing battles in our homes. So, to my wife and family, I love you and am still learning. Please forgive me the errors of my past.