To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Speech’ Category

Leadership and Communication

Our God is a communicating God. His revelation to us today is a sure word; it is the Bible. He is also a God of love who always acts to work good for His people. If you are a leader among God’s people you are called to represent this God to His people. In our lives as elders, people should see that we are people who communicate well and therein show our love for the people in the church.

So many churches degenerate into confusion as a result of bad communication. Often this takes the form of no communication; people refuse to interact. As a general rule we should be labouring as leaders so that people are interacting well in the church which we shepherd. We need to set an example with this.

We should respond to enquiries and requests for information promptly and courteously. We should seek to not confuse anyone or mess anyone around. If we have various communication platforms such as email, messenger etc., we should make sure that they are regularly checked so that we do not miss anything.

Failure to communicate in a healthy way leads to frustration among the people. They wonder why there has been no response. They are perhaps left to fester on an issue or wonder if they have done anything wrong. Through these means Satan can come in among the people of God and cause disruption.

With a little good organisation, care and attention we can make sure that we do allow the devil any inroads into the fellowship of God’s people.

In Ephesians 4:25-27 we read these words. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Here is a passage which most certainly has direct application to how we communicate together.

So fellow elders let us set a good example here. Let us be diligent in engaging with communicating with the people in our care whether that be personally or through the various electronic channels that we have nowadays.

Bark And Bite

So you tell me that their bark is worse than their bite. And I tell you that that may be all well and good, but I am just experiencing their bark and that is very loud. Them sinking their teeth into me is not my primary concern at the moment.

The Bible says that A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Prov. 15:1). And as for the servant of the Lord he must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness (2 Tim 2:24b-25a). We learn immediately from these scriptures that your bite matters. In fact many people will be long departed from you before the effects of any bite are experienced, whether that bite be flesh devouring or a mere graze. They will be long gone because your bite will have frightened them off. 

Your bite might actually have transpired to be beneficial to the recipient. However, your bark prevented any healing balm from coming from the bite

Whether our words are those of exhortation, correction , rebuke or encouragement they should be gentle. They should be heard and received as words coated in love. They might not be palatable because they deal with issues that go to the core of our being, but the words should come with kindness.

Moreover, gentleness is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22b). An unpleasant bark is not in accord with a Spirit emanating character. They are more like the works of the flesh.

Speech

THINK about what you say

T Is it true

H Is is helpful

I Is it Inspiring

N Is it Necessary

K Is it Kind

Our Lord Jesus said: But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken (Matt. 12:28).

Your Tongue

The following is based on James 3:1-12

  1. If you control your tongue then you control your life.
  2. Show me a man whose life is out of control and you will see a a man who cannot control his tongue.
  3. And yet no man can control his tongue; it is a powerful member of our body.
  4. We need help. We need One to take control of our tongues; we need One to take control of our lives. We need a new Master.
  5. So every day I must come to the Lord and ask for Him to control my tongue.
  6. So  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone (Col. 4:6).

Clarity and Words.

I was at the hospital recently seeing a specialist regarding the dental issues of one of my sons (not mine this time!). I asked the specialist what the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist was. She explained that a dentist was a something like a GP Doctor whilst an orthodontist was a specialist. All was helpful to that point. But then we went on to consider what an orthodontist did. At this point she lost me with statements about maxillofacial and orofacial things (or something along those lines) and I was left none the wiser. I think I smiled sweetly and we moved on.

This all led me to ponder upon how we use words to bring clarity and meaning. The lady was very pleasant and probably thought she had explained herself, but she had not explained herself at all. The terms were, no doubt, part of her everyday parlance, given the job that she did and the company that she kept. However, for me they meant little or nothing.

Which leads me on to ponder how we can so easily be guilty of that in teaching and preaching the Bible. It can also happen in general conversation with those who are not so familiar with biblical terminology. Words which are oh so familiar to us, can trot out of our mouths and we think we have brought clarity, but really we have only brought fog. And people smile sweetly and go away none the wiser. I am not saying my orthodontist lady was wrong to use the terms she did, I only needed some explanation.

So as Christians and, in particular as preacher’s and teachers, we need to work at making sure our words bring clarity. Yes we can, and in may ways must, use the big words of our faith such as propitiation, sanctification, redemption. etc. But we must give the meaning.

And by the way if you are out there and hear me speak in whatever context and you feel I have only brought fog through my words please tell me (gently) because with all my being I do not want to fog people with my words.

Keeping Your Word.

I wrote here about the importance of the words that come from our mouths.

As a further thought on this important subject, I remember hearing it related how in The City in the 1960’s if a deal was “shaken-on” then that was it. The meaning being that if you verbally agreed certain terms then they would be kept to. There was no withdrawing even if it proved to be disadvantageous, to either party  down the line.

Alas, it was observed that things were no longer so. Now if people discover down the line that it was a bad deal for them they are now happy to pull out regardless of the commitment they have made. Your word is no longer your bond.

Generalities are obviously being spoken of here. But it is indicative of a change of moral atmosphere. For the Christian though the pattern is set in Psalm 15b. He is one who keeps an oath even when it hurts,  and does not change their mind. We are people of our word. 

You’d Better Watch What You Say!

There are times when the Word of God explodes into your situation. That is fully to be expected because the Word of God is alive; these are the living oracles of God. The word of God is alive and active we read in Hebrews 4:12a. Have you ever felt the explosion which comes from reading Ephesians 4:29? Why not have a go now and see what impact it has on you? This Word from God says: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Let us then consider something of the meaning of this verse.

First of all, notice the zero-tolerance in the verse. It does not say, “Reduce as much as you can your unwholesome talk.” Rather it says that there should be no unwholesome talk coming out of our mouths. And that means zero unwholesome talk. But what is unwholesome talk? It is that which is essentially bad and corrupt. It is that which comes out of our mouths and harms and destroys others. Sometimes it is not just the words we say, it is how we say it. Essentially, good words can become unwholesome when they are uttered with a sarcastic snarl. We must be careful about what we say and how we say it.

Rather what we need to be doing is using our mouths for the building up of others. Before we say anything we should always be thinking whether or not it will be beneficial for those who hear it. Is what I am going to say essentially good? If we are speaking in a good and helpful way, then our words will be put to good use; they will be edifying words. Our speaking should be with the goal of bringing spiritual strengthening to those we speak to.

Let us stop here to think about the mindless chatter that so easily comes from our mouths. Should we not take time to examine our words to make sure they are beneficial to others. The words of our Lord Jesus strike us here when he says But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. (Matt. 12:36). This does not exclude everyday normal conversation which oils relationships. However, it must make us think about what actually is coming from our mouths. Let us be wary of speaking worthless words.

As we think about these good words which edify, we are prompted to think that our speech should be thoughtfully delivered. We have to realise that good words are not always beneficial words. This is so because we have not considered our words in the light of the condition and circumstances of the hearer. Accordingly, our verse exhorts us to think about edifying others according to their needs. There is a sense that good words can become the wrong words when they are said at the wrong time. So we need to consider who we are speaking to and what their present circumstances are.

If you look at the ministry of our Saviour then you see that, as he interacted with people, he was continually asking questions. Through questions we find out what situation those we are speaking to are in and we can discern their needs. Once this is done, we can seek to match our words to their situation. Behind such an approach is a self-sacrificing attitude which puts our tongues to use for the benefit of others and not our selfish indulgence.

We need to be careful, as well, about who is listening to our words. Paul tells the Ephesians to make sure that their speech may benefit those who listen (v29b). One thing to think about here is that of those who may be overhearing what we say. Our words may be fully appropriate for the person we are speaking to. However, they may be harmful for others who may hear. This may be particularly the case when children are involved. So whoever is hearing our words, whether they be directly or indirectly, we should be concerned that they are receiving things which will benefit them.

In making sure that our words are good, edifying and beneficial, this does not mean that we should never speak strong words. There are times when the needs of the people or person we are speaking to necessitate that we use strong words. Moreover, our words may not always be welcomed, but that does not take away from the fact that they were the proper words at that time. Remember as the Lord spoke his words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23, these were strong words which did not boost his popularity with them! However, they were good words intended to benefit the hearers by bringing them to repentance.

When we have felt the explosion of these words into our lives one response could be that we determine to reform the way we speak. However, we need to remember that it is, as our Saviour says, For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Matt. 12:34b). For our words to be of the right quality they have to come from a heart of the right quality. And our hearts are only in the best shape when we have the life of Jesus flowing through them. Let us make sure we are continually walking in fellowship with Him.

Let us then conclude with the words of the Psalmist: May the words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14). Amen

Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of October 2012

 

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