Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and they react to something you said in a way that surprised you? Maybe they were offended by something you said when you meant no offense at all. Or maybe they arrived at a conclusion based on something you said that is contrary to what you believe or meant to say. Why is that? Communication is both a science and an art. Effective communication only occurs when both parties understand one another’s views and opinions and can either have productive dialogue to resolve a difference or simply agree to disagree without raising the tension to a dangerous level. The Bible has a lot to say about the words we speak and how we speak them, giving us examples of how godly people should communicate with one another. Today’s show is titled “What I Meant to Say” as we look to God’s Word to give us advice on how we effectively communicate with each other as spouses, families and fellow believers.
Table Talk Notes
We’ve talked about this before, yet communication has rapidly gotten worse—why?
Current political climate in our nation
- Effective communication replaced with quick soundbites & “gotchas”
- Too prejudiced (lit. “pre-judging”) to actually listen to the other
- Both sides seem more intent on disparaging the other party than on finding solutions to the problems we face
Often communicate over Facebook or Twitter instead of sitting down and having meaningful discussions with one another
- Can offend just by clicking on the wrong emoji or gif
- Youth lose the ability to have face-to-face conversations, looking in the eye
- Josh Hader
The Battle of the Sexes
- Studies show the average woman uses 20,000 words per day; the average man uses about 7,000. What can we learn from this?
- Typically, women are more apt to share their feelings while men are much more “secretive”.
- Women tend to be more likely to seek advice from friends where men try to work through things on their own.
- Women typically have deep relationships where they share everything. Men will tend to have superficial “friends”…for example ones that talk only about sports, as a way to avoid sharing their fears and feelings.
- In a marriage relationship, a wife often wants her husband to open up and talk but the husband can see it as “nagging”.
Negative stereotypes continuing to badger men into silence
- Most sitcoms show the man as the dumbest person in the family.
- Society traditionally reinforced a man as the “strong, silent type” (although that is changing in an unhealthy way, with the blurring of genders).
- Many men have been raised to not share their feelings because it is a sign of weakness.
- We need strong men—in society, in marriage and in the Church—but genuinely strong men are emotionally healthy men
The Dangers of Men not communicating
- We all need to process our thoughts and share our feelings at times.
- “Serenity now – Insanity later!”
- The Misconceptions that harden into trench warfare, if not corrected
- Feelings in themselves are not necessarily wrong (see misconceptions above)
- Left to ourselves men can become isolated, which leads to problems.
- Our wives can see us as uncaring or unsympathetic to what they are feeling.
Keys to Encouraging Communication
Understand how we process our thoughts
- Internal processors: Think through a problem before speaking about it. They want to get it right the first time.
- External processors: Need to speak facts, ideas and opinions out loud to help them make sense and reach a conclusion.
- There is nothing wrong with either method and each has its strengths and weaknesses:
- Internal processors can frustrate external processors because the external processor does not understand why the internal person is not seeking advice or help, or misinterpret the IP’s withdrawal to process as the “silent treatment”. Often this silence is “holding their tongue” while sorting it out.
- Internal processors, if they get stuck on a problem, can become agitated, withdrawn or depressed, avoiding others until resolution is achieved.
- External processors can be seen as impetuous, careless or thoughtless by internal processors. They are speaking out loud to sort through facts, ideas and opinions, but the internal processor (who usually doesn’t speak until the issue is resolved to them) thinks everything said in the EP’s effort to sort through an issue is what the EP truly believes.
- External processors stuck on a problem can lash out in frustration with a hurtful vomiting of words, wounding loved ones.
- Mike’s example of “processing” before the staff.
Understand (and apply!) Biblical Guidelines for Communication
- Godly communication:
- Make statements on yourself (Sharing)
- Ask questions of others (Learning)
- Answer others’ questions of you (Sharing)
- Ungodly interaction:
- Make statements on others (Accuse)
- Don’t ask questions of others, or ask leading questions, projecting and judging (Pride—assuming you know what they are thinking)
- Don’t answer the questions of others (Isolate)
- Questions, especially open-ended ones, are the key
- Genesis 3:8-13 | And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
- Genesis 4:9-10 | Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.”
- Satan gives a good (or should we say “bad”) example of using leading questions to project or judge someone’s motives: Job 1:8-11 | And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”
“When Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees in order to try to trap Him, He often responded to their questions with a question of his own. He did this to point out their wrong thinking and hypocrisy to them in hopes they would see their errors.”
Engage your BRAIN before using your Tongue
James 1:26 | If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
James 3:5-12 | So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
“How many times do we speak a careless word that does irreparable damage to others, our Christian testimony, and ourselves? James was not exaggerating when he said the uncontrolled tongue is a world of unrighteousness. One word spoken in haste can damage people and relationships for life. We are quick to speak and slow to listen and think. In this fast-paced world we are all walking time bombs when we don’t slow down and consider the powerful consequences of the words we speak.”
Prov 18:2 | A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Prov 29:11 | A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
Eccles 10:12-13 | The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness, and the end of his talk is evil madness.
Matt 5:22 | But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
“The key to controlling our tongues before we become fools is humility. We must realize we are just not that important, and in spite of what our flesh tells us, we are not God’s gift to humanity or the answer to everyone’s questions or problems. A good rule of thumb to remember is that God gave us two ears but only one mouth; so let’s learn to listen twice as much as we speak. Few, if any, people ever got in trouble for not speaking, but every time we open our mouths, we risk getting ourselves into hot water. We must learn the discipline of thinking before we speak and save ourselves a lot of trouble.”
Proverbs 10:19 | When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
Proverbs 17:27-28 | Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”
Matthew 12:34-37 | “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the Day of Judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”