One of the largest issues in relationships is communication, or the lack of it. Almost without exception, when people seek counsel regarding their relationships, it is due to some form of error in communication. Communication is necessary for relationships, and yet it seems that most people do not know how to communicate. Without good communication you will not be able to have the kind of marriage, family, or friendships that God desires you to have.
Our speech is a powerful tool for either good or bad. There have been many times where I have desperately wished I could put words back into my mouth! God’s Word addresses this topic for us this way:
“We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” James 3:2 (NIV)
“Those who love to talk will experience the consequences, for the tongue can kill or nourish life.” Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)
We struggle with human relationships because we are all so different! God has created us with diverse interests, personalities, and motivations. He has arranged our life circumstances, experiences, opportunities, and the culture we live in.
David Powlison says, “These variations on the human theme find expression in our often marked human differences. Furthermore, the Lord of all the earth often seems to put people together in marriage who are wired differently. As a result, either we grow to compliment each other by learning to give intelligent love (as we communicate biblically) or we incinerate the marriage on the battlefield of insistently different demands.”1
If you are like the majority of Christianity today, you are familiar with phrases like “love tank”, “love cup”, and “languages of love.” These are born of contemporary pop psychology and have nothing whatsoever to do with biblical communication. We tend to demand communication that meets what we perceive to be our needs. This is why all those books in the Christian bookstore fly off the shelves! They are nearly all focused on how others are not meeting the perceived felt needs that we expect others to meet on a consistent basis and on how we can get them to do it. It is a shame that so many believers have bought into it.
Powlison goes on to say, “…Effective communication may be defined as the process of sharing information with another person in such a way that the sender’s message is understood as he intended it.”
How often is your communication understood as you intended it? Do you find yourself having to explain your explanations? It is only logical to conclude that if the person you are speaking to does not understand what you are saying, you have not communicated effectively.
As women, we have this idea that others can read our minds or are able to extrapolate from our inferences what we are trying to tell them. We rely heavily on non-verbal communication with our husbands and children. While these can be helpful and are one aspect of communication, there must be more to it if we want to be clearly understood.
Next time we will look at the power of our speech. For today, begin to ask yourself, “Is my communication inward focused or outward focused?”
1David Powlison, Critique of Five Love Languages, article- Journal of Biblical Counseling, Fall 2002 page 3.