By Robert Guinn
Whether it is verbal or nonverbal, we are constantly communicating something to someone. It could be the blissful sigh one takes after drinking their first sip of coffee in the morning or the eyes that refuse to look someone in the eye while they are talking. Numerous surveys, studies, and observers have noted that one of the most common issues in relationships is the use of proper communication.
Knowing that our communication reveals our inward selves (Mark 7:14 -23), Christians need to ask themselves what godly communication looks like. The Bible reveals that:
1. Our communication should be a reflection of the inward conversion of our hearts to no longer be self-serving (Romans 12:1-2).
2. Our communication should be constructive in nature (Ephesians 4:29).
3. Our communication should be consistent (James 3).
4. Our communication should be thoughtful, not reactive (James 1:19).
5. Our communication should be tailored to the occasion (Colossians 4:5-6).
Certainly these five guidelines are beneficial and, if implemented properly, can help transform our communication. We can talk about these five or other scriptural teachings, like speaking the "truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15), and even recognize their importance. The truth is, however, that we may not know exactly how to put this list into action.
What does this type communication look like? There are three areas of communication that require the consideration of Christians while communicating to others.
Culture has a major significance in how someone communicates and interprets what others communicate to them. We cannot ignore the fact that, in the United States, we are trying to communicate with a culture that is "unchurched."
Gary Chapman authored a book titled The Five Love Languages. These languages include: words of affirmation, gifts, physical touch, acts of service, and quality time. Chapman explains that these are five of the main ways that people communicate love, affection, and appreciation to others. One's Love Language helps determine their receptiveness to someone else’s communications of appreciation, hatred, or comfort. This helps explain why one kind of communication might hurt someone else more than it does another.
The third thing Christians need to consider when communicating to others is Generational Differences. Each generation has unique beneficial qualities, yet what might be considered an insult or "fightin' words" for one generation may not be the same for someone of another generation.
Effectively communicating with others is not an easy task.
- Robert Guinn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.