One of the most difficult practices most of us forget is our need to listen. Most people will pour out their soul to you if we just give them a chance to speak. The problem at hand is that we want to get our point across, first. All of it.
In education etiquette, and education theory, it is called testing-for-learning. A good communicator will always pause and ask Did that make sense to you?
I have someone in my life who I call and he immediately starts talking…, about himself. How someone can start talking, seemingly without ever taking a breath, and never give the other person a space to talk is beyond me. His record is an hour forty minutes; then a So, how are you? I’m too exhausted to answer. Fine.
Christians are just as guilty of this sin as many other people. We just keep talking, believing if we can fill the room with our point of view people will cave in to the gospel and its barrage of truths. Really.
One of the key ingredients in communication, especially when explaining our gospel is an Italian principle I was reminded of from The Godfather movie franchise. Shut-up a you face! We need to shut-up and listen to the other person’s point of view.
We may think we’ve gotten our point across clearly. But how do we know?!? Simple. ASK.
This is not rocket-surgery. It is simply courtesy. Politeness. Showing interest. Learning.
Do we trust God so little that we think we have to get His point of view across, presented in a complete logical-sequential package? There is a basic principle in Christian communication— Give God some room to work. We dare not ignore this principle in favor of our own words.
So. Some suggestions.
1. Our message is built on relationship. BUILD one as a context..
2. Shut-up a you face.
3. Ask questions.
4. Give people a chance to think, to respond, at their own pace.
5. Don’t cram the Gospel into someone’s life.
6. Again, give God some room to work. We don’t have to seal-the-deal. That’s God’s work.
Always keep in mind that the rich context for our words is LOVE. Do you actually love this person? Or is your love merely a pretense for their conversion? Not a good idea.
Finally, remember that God is at work. If He is not at work, all our explanations and presentations will fall of dumb ears. He is the initiator and convincer of our faith. Follow Him into conversation. Look for the threads of God woven throughout a person’s life. He is probably at work in peoples’ lives long before we show up.
Loving God; loving people… and bringing the two together! ©
NEXT— No joy in life.