The Importance of Communication
“Can You Hear Me Now?”
The Importance of Communication
(Telephone Ring. Answer phone, “Hello… Can you hear me now?)
No doubt most of us have seen the Verizon commercial with this guy walking around from place to place, talking into his cell phone and asking, “Can you hear me now?”
If you have a cell phone, you have experienced the difficulty that one can experience with off and on reception. It’s tough to have a conversation or effectively communicate, when reception fades in and out and you have to constantly check to see if the other person is hearing you, by asking that inane (silly) question, “Can you hear me now?” Yet, we have to check and see if we are communicating with the person on the other phone.
I was leaning towards doing a series on repentance, but I believe the Spirit began to speak to me about communication and conflict resolution. What good will a deep understanding of repentance do for us, if we can’t hear one another? This does not mean that we don’t need some understanding of repentance, which I recently preached about on Sunday mornings and will return to, when I feel led by the Spirit. What it does mean is that at this point in my life and in the history of our church, I’m not going to wait on us to get repentant. We’re going to look repentant, whether we are or not. We’re going to communicate with one another and resolve conflict with one another in a Spirit-controlled manner. So, I am going to teach us how to do effective, loving, Spirit-controlled communication and conflict resolution. If relationships are everything, then communication is the lifeblood of our relationships! “Can you hear me now?”
Emperor Frederick, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, wanted to find out man’s original language. He reasoned that if infants never heard one word, they would speak in the language that was natural to them. So he arranged to have some newborn babies cared for by nurses who were instructed to maintain total silence in their presence. This was extremely difficult, but they obeyed. Within several months all the babies were dead.
The illustration points out the obvious: “Communication is critically important!” God created people in His own image to be social beings with a need for communication. God created us so that He might fellowship and communicate with us. That makes sense, since Our God is a Community within Himself who is in constant communication with the members of that Community.
“Medical doctors report that a large number of patients come to see them NOT because of physical problems, but because they desire to have someone listen and care about them. The ultimate reason we want to communicate is so that we be understood and accepted for who we are! Many people experience the pain of not feeling understood by friends, family and co-workers.”
Communication is one of the most important facets of any kind of relationship and, in my opinion, we can never get enough information or practice in this area. Communication consists basically of talking and listening, but listening is far more important and difficult that talking.
If I were to ask you right now to share with this group the most important thing that you do to transmit to another person that you love him/her, I think that I would get as many answers as there are people here. But I think that one of the most important gifts of love that one human being can give to another human being is the gift of being heard or listening.
In his book, Caring Enough To Hear And Be Heard, David Augsburger makes this powerful statement:
“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable. To say something you value deeply to another and to have him or her value it equally by listening to it carefully and appreciatively is the most universal way of exchanging social interest or demonstrating affection.”
James 1:19-20 (NASB), “19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
In his book, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoffer makes this statement,
“He who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either, he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great Listener and whose work they should share.”
Most people know that communication is the number one cause of divorce. But perhaps it is not realized that communication is the number one cause of problems in all interpersonal relationships. The prolific author and counselor, Dr. Gary Collins, writes in his book Christian Counseling, “It is well-known that many marriage difficulties relate to a breakdown in husband-wife communication. The same is true of other problems. People are unable or unwilling to communicate. The counselee must learn how to communicate feelings, thoughts, and attitudes both accurately and effectively. Such communication involves the expression of oneself, and the ability to receive accurate messages from others.”
In that short paragraph, Dr. Collins defines and gives the two basic elements of communication. Communication is sending and receiving accurate messages. Communication is effective talking and active listening.
“Communication in a relationship occurs on a continuum. We are always communicating to some degree: sending and receiving messages that express our needs, desires, feelings, hopes and plans to each other.
Much of how we communicate was learned at an early age, at a time when our needs-and sometimes our wants-were determined by others. Many of us were taught that our feelings, especially, were not to be expressed or communicated.
Carrying ineffective communication ‘habits’ into our relationships today, however, prevents us from realizing clear, open communication with others.” Therefore, we must become aware of ineffective communication habits, seek to break them, and work to establish new, effective communication habits. The following information is offered to us do this.
(Let’s begin to explore this information by discussing:)
I. INTENT VERSUS IMPACT.
“In good communication the intent equals the impact. Rare as this seems, it must still be the goal of every communication. My intent, filtered by my expectations--emotions, needs, hopes, fears--gets put into words. These words, filtered by your expectations--emotions, needs, hopes, fears--register an impact on you the listener. When, after passing through these dual filters, the impact is still reasonably close to the original intent, clear communication is occurring.” It’s a wonder that we ever have accurate communication with another person!
(Let’s explore the Biblical basis for being concerned with communication.)
II. BIBLICAL BASIS.
Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
We are going to be held accountable for the killing and enlivening that we did with our tongues!
Ephesians 4:15, “But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ.”
Speaking the truth in love is the action of a mature Saint! Not many Saints will reach this plateau.
Ephesians 4:29, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Paul didn’t say try to keep your unwholesome words to a minimum. He said don’t let one unwholesome word proceed from our mouths. We are to speak only the word that’s good for edification and for the moment!
The goal is not repression or expression of emotions, but personally acknowledging emotions and then selectively expressing them according to the goal of ministry! “We are to acknowledge fully before God what we feel and to experience internally the full weight of our emotions; but we may express our acknowledged emotions only when such expression will further God’s purposes. To state this principle more simply, we are to handle our emotions by
(1) privately acknowledging our feelings to God and to ourselves, and
(2) subordinating the expression of our feelings, in both timing and manner, to the goal of ministry.”
(The following are additional Scriptures that deal with communication:)
Be slow to speak: Proverbs 12:18; 13:3; 17:27-28; 29:20.
Be sensitive in your speech: Ephesians 4:19 (NIV).
Be gentle in your speech: Proverbs 15:1, 4; 26-21.
(A very important factor in achieving positive, effective communication is our view of conflict. Let’s discuss this factor under the title of:)
III. CONFLICT: A POSITIVE CHALLENGE.
“Very often fear of conflict prevents clear, open communication.” Many have learned to deny or avoid all conflict. It’s not conflict that will wreck your relationship or marriage, but unresolved conflict. When conflict is avoided, denied, or repressed it acts like termites destroying the relationship invisibly from the inside. You don’t have to like conflict, but you must adjust your attitude to realize that it is a necessary part of human communication. Viewing conflict as a positive challenge would be an even greater help in dealing with it.
Agree or Disagree?
A D 1. Most people are surprised that there is any conflict in the church.
“Surprise is perhaps the most characteristic word to describe our feelings about conflict in the church.”
A D 2. God has called the church to be a divine community made up of divine participants.
“The apostle Paul described this human community of believers as an ‘earthen vessel’ (2 Cor. 4:7). By this he meant the church is a human community which has all of the characteristics of other human groups. As a human community the church struggles to live with Christ at its center. But it is never perfect, never fully divine. This serves, as Paul says, ‘to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us’ (2 Cor. 4:7).
A D 3. God entered into a conflict to save Humanity.
“Peace is a quality which belongs ultimately to God. It is a sense of well-being within and between persons and nations and the ending of hatred and enmity between enemies. A careful study of Ephesians 2:14-18; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; and Colossians 1:19-21 clearly indicates the reality that fallen Humankind is the enemy of God. God is the initiator who changes humanity through the action of Jesus Christ. By taking upon himself on the cross the hatred of humanity and the cosmos, the enmity between God and persons could be ended. Only by becoming involved in conflict could the conflict be laid to rest.”
A D 4. The source of conflict in the world is Human sin.
“The doctrine of the fall is the description of Humanity turning from the Creator to live in disobedience as a consequence of this choice. Conflict is introduced into every dimension of Human reality because of Human sin.”
A D 5. While Jesus was here on earth, He was never involved in any conflict.
While here on earth, Jesus was involved in
“intellectual debate (Luke 20:27-40);
political turmoil (Matt. 22:15-22);
personal anguish (Luke 8:43-48);
family misunderstanding (Mark 3:20-35);
economic conflict (Luke 12:13-21); and
religious ferment (Matt. 21:12-13.)”
A D 6. The cross is a symbol of peace and has nothing to do with conflict.
“The resolution of conflict is the way of reconciliation. Only as Jesus assumed within himself the conflicts of Humanity could the conflicts of Humanity become settled. Thus, the way of reconciliation is the way of accepting the supreme symbol of Human conflict - the cross.”
A D 7. Our ministry of reconciliation entails dealing with conflict in all of its forms.
We are called to share in His suffering and to be ministers of reconciliation (Luke 9:23; 2 Cor. 5:16-20). “If Jesus’ supreme act of reconciliation was the obedience of death through encounter with conflict, our ministry of reconciliation must be a living encounter with conflict in all of its forms.”
A D 8. Because we have the ministry of reconciliation, conflict is no longer necessary in the Church.
Conflict is necessary “because sin has made its impression upon all persons and the church is a community of sinners being saved by grace. Any ministry of reconciliation assumes persons in need of reconciliation. If people refuse to recognize and deal with conflict, there can be no reconciliation.”
(Next week, we will learn more about conflict and how to deal with it.)
(Now is the Day of Salvation. Come to Jesus, now!)
Call to Discipleship
 Michael J. O’Connor and Sandra J. Merwin, The Mysteries Of Motivation, “Why People Do The Things They Do,” Performax Systems International, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1988, pg. 41.
 Winning Lifestyles, IV. Relationship Module, Performax Systems International, Inc., 1986, p. 4.
 David Augsburger, Caring Enough To Hear and Be Heard, (Regal Books, 1982), pp. 25,27.
 Lawrence J. Crabb, Encouragement, (The Zondervan Corporation, 1984), p. 66.
 Winning Lifestyles, IV. Relationship Module, Performax Systems International, Inc., 1986, p. 4.
 Larry L. McSwain and William C. Treadwell, Jr., Conflict Ministry in the Church, Boardman Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 1981, Preface.
 Ibid, p. 20.
 Ibid, p. 21.
 Ibid, p. 22.
 Ibid, pp. 22,23.
 Ibid, p. 23.
 Ibid, p. 24.