Tag Archives: communication skills

Christian Leadership Development #6

Essential Skill #4

Communicating Grace

grace02

            Once we have given our due diligence to skillful listening we enter the arena of communicating grace.

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Grace is one of the most important words in the Bible and can be easily defined as,

“The divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life.”

            Grace is God’s influence, not necessarily ours. Keeping in mind that God’s influence, should be palpable in our speech will keep us humble, gentle, and conscious of what is being imparted in our conversations.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

            The word corrupt in the previous passage simply means, “Worthless and of no value.” If our words are not ministering grace to the hearer it shouldn’t be coming out of our mouths. We should constantly be judging our words before we speak, asking ourselves, “Is this going to edify, help, and bless? Am I truly speaking from the Lord’s perspective, or just mine? Is my tone right, are my motives pure?

grace05            As leaders, we must understand that God uses us as a mouthpiece to speak to others. God does not take this lightly and neither should we. The Bible is replete with scriptures about the power and significance of words and the effect they have on our lives. What we say and how we say it can literally be ministering death or life into a person’s life or situation.

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

            This reinforces the importance of being a skilled listener, but even more so, the importance of our own intimate relationship with God. Our spiritual condition has a profound effect on our ability to communicate the heart of God.

Love is the license to speak truth

            An area I see young leaders often miss it is in their delivery of truth. Truth is received in the manner it is delivered. The Word of God is truth. It is also a sword, a double edged one at that. Truth should never be delivered with the intention of “straightening someone out,” or “correcting someone.” Let me explain:

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

            This is the most misused misinterpreted and misunderstood scripture in the New Testament to justify the Bible bashing, finger pointing, and judgmental approach to correcting people in the name of God. Actually it is a self-centered self-righteous assault on people that comes from not understanding their identity in Christ and opens one up to the influence of religious spirits.

            Notice that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God.” God is love according to 1 John 4:8. So we can conclude that if the delivery of truth isn’t inspired by Love it is NOT profitable for doctrine, it will NOT reprove, it will NOT correct, it will NOT instruct, it will NOT complete, and it will NOT equip. It just cuts, and it cuts deep. Love is the license to speak truth. If we don’t have genuine love and compassion in our hearts toward the ones we are speaking to, we have lost our license to speak on God’s behalf.

nausia.03            Let’s say you love a perfectly cooked ribeye steak. It may be your favorite food in the world, but if I serve it to you wrapped in a dirty diaper you aren’t going to eat it. It’s the same with delivering truth. The word of God is so powerful it can change a life but it must be palatable, seasoned with salt, full of grace, and delivered in sincere love for it to be received.

            If we are not imparting God’s grace, communicating God’s heart, and being a vessel of God’s love, we should remain silent. If we can’t correct that on the spot we may need to stop and reschedule a time to finish the conversation giving us time to pray or seek council from another leader. Don’t be pressured into speaking when you know your heart isn’t right.

            There is a simple rule that will keep us from a myriad of problems if we apply it.

silence speaks

“When we speak, be sure it’s an improvement on silence.”

            Following this rule does a few things,

  • It slows down the conversation and keeps us mindful of the power and purpose of our words.
  • It diffuses conflict that arises from elevated emotions.
  • It teaches us the value and power of silence.
  • It gives us greater control over ourselves and the entire situation.
  • It allows us time to hear from our heart what the Holy Spirit is saying in the situation.

            Personally, I believe this is what was happening in John 8:1-11 when Jesus was writing in the sand with His finger while everyone pressed Him for an answer to judge the woman caught in adultery. I think Jesus was simply giving His heart time to tell His mouth what to say.

            Not being willing to speak until He heard from the Father is a lesson that every leader should take to heart. There are few worse feelings than knowing we have hurt one of God’s children with our words.

            As leaders, we think before we speak, selecting words that nurture and build up rather than tear down and destroy. When faced with hostility we speak gently so as to diffuse anger and emotions rather than feed them. When faced with uncertainty, we are slow to speak, letting silence speak to the person and God speak us.

“Godly communication isn’t merely a skill, it is a discipline.”

Question: What is the definition of grace as it pertains to communication?

Question: What defines a “corrupt” word as stated in Ephesians 4:29?

Question: What are 3 things to keep in mind before we speak?

Question: Before we speak, what should our words be an improvement on?

Question: What license must you have before you can speak on God’s behalf?

Christian Leadership Development #5

Essential Skill #3

Skillful Listening

listen5

            Great leadership depends on effective communication. A leader who cannot communicate well will not lead very well or for very long.

            In his famous prayer, St. Francis of Assisi asked God to help him to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

listen1            Understanding doesn’t come by talking, it only comes from listening and learning. Being a skilled listener is the most important part of being a great communicator. Learning to hold your tongue is a valuable skill for anyone, but as leaders this is a must.

James 1:19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.

            To be quick to hear and slow to speak means having both humility and respect for others. It means you take the necessary time to sincerely listen to people instead of just voicing your opinion.

listen4

3 Keys to effective listening:

  • Listen to God

 

            Good communication with people starts with good communication with God. After all it is His people you are ministering to. Always keep in mind that you are the gift He has chosen to give to the people. Like St. Francis, if you will prayerfully seek Gods will and direction before ministering to others, inviting His involvement and be mindful of His perspective, you will tap into His wisdom and better express His heart in any given situation. If leaders will first practice this in their prayer life, the fruit of it will show up when communicating to others.

            When leaders don’t first communicate with God they tend to lean too much on their own understanding or their own strengths and abilities which often leads to trouble like misunderstandings, offenses, broken relationships and eventually burnout. Trusting in God brings good direction and success.

            Leaders must learn to first communicate with God before they even consider communicating with people. If you find this point being overstressed, it’s not. That’s the order that will produce the greatest level of effectiveness and success.
            So often in the church we find too much counseling of others without first seeking God. Too many meetings in which the church’s affairs are discussed without first seeking God’s guidance in prayer, and far too many decisions being made without adequate preparation in prayer, and yet we still expect God to bless it.

            Prayer is the most important part of any leader’s life. Not their talents, not their gifting and abilities, not their personality and charisma, but getting direction from The LORD on how to proceed.

“He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.” ~Aristotle~

            The BEST leaders are ALWAYS the best followers of Christ. If a leader is not being led by the Lord, where and how is he leading those who are following? To be an authority with dynamic influence we must submit to God’s authority and invite His influence. Christians follow leaders primarily because of their relationship with God, a relationship that is birthed and cultivated in the secret place but is evident to all.

  • Listen to people

 

listen3.jpg            Listening to people is more than just hearing words, listen with your eyes when people are talking. Pay attention to how they enter a room, to tone, body language, eye contact, emotions, and emphasis on words or phrases. Listening to people is about gathering information so you can provide the proper response. If you pay close attention and let people do most of the talking up front, the proper responses will usually become clear.

Proverbs 18:13 He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.

            Give people plenty of time to share their thoughts and don’t interrupt. Interruptions send a message that we don’t value what they say. If we’re going to truly understand a person’s situation and honor them properly, we should always let them fully express themselves. Silence can be our friend. A nod and a thoughtful look will many times keep them talking and bring out more important details that they may be hesitant to share. The skillful use of silence can do some heavy lifting in a conversation.

A great little rule to keep in mind is:

“When we speak, it should be an improvement on silence.”

            Making a habit of weighing what we say against the current silence will prevent us from speaking harshly or out of turn. It avoids offence and protects relationships.

Beware of the lobbyist.

            Some people are not looking for answers or council, they are just lobbying for agreement. If a person uses phrases like, “God said, or God told me,” don’t get trapped into a debate or argument. If God truly did say something, that leaves no room for us to argue or disagree and we need to make that clear to them. If they insist on our opinion, we don’t give it to them, especially if we are in complete disagreement. This puts the responsibility of their future actions squarely on their shoulders.

            We can ask questions like, “are you absolutely sure that God spoke to you?” If they insist that He did we can council them to be patient and pray for God’s will and purpose to prevail in the situation, but we shouldn’t speak against what they believe God said because it will give them a license to break fellowship and violate relationship.

            On the other hand, if they are sincere and submitted to leadership, using language like, “I think God is telling me this, or I believe God is directing me to,” then we have an open door to lead and council.

  • Listen to your heart

 

Proverbs 16:23 The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips.

“Give your heart time to tell your mouth what to say.”

            There is tremendous power in being slow to speak. It shapes the atmosphere, transforms relationships and allows us to hear the Holy Spirit speak to us before we speak to others. It’s so easy, when someone comes to us in a hurricane of emotions, to write them off because of their delivery and not listen to what they have to say. It’s times like this, we really need to lean on the Holy Spirit for patience, love, and grace so that we don’t respond in kind.

listen“Good communication is a two way street. Good communicators promote an equal amount of traffic in both lanes, understanding that the listening lane is the first one traveled.”

Question: Why is listening important when communicating?

Question: What is the first key to effective listening?

Question: What percentage of time do you spend listening when in prayer?

Question: How would you describe the communication in your prayer life?

Question: On a scale of 1-10 how would you rank yourself as a skilled listener?

Question: What can you change to raise that number?