Tag Archives: communication

Christian Leadership Development #6

Essential Skill #4

Communicating Grace

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            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.

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“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

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            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.

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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?

Your Words Make A Difference

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        Are you tactful and wise with your words? Slow to speak, and quick to listen? Or do you need to carry around a roll of Duct Tape to keep from sinning with your mouth and saying things you regret? 

          Oh, I am not pointing fingers at anyone, I have been known to need some of that miracle-working, silver sticky stuff myself.

          As a servant of Christ, we should immediately feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit when we say something that hurts people or tears them down. We should also feel convicted if we speak against anything that God has said about us. If we go for long periods of time and don’t experience those little pricks of conviction and correction in our heart, I would suggest that we are not even trying.

          We all have room to grow in this department; I don’t care how mature we are. One of the most important things we can learn is to trust our heart. Our heart (spirit man) has a direct line to God’s heart and mind, and the source of all wisdom and knowledge. If we take a moment to check up on the inside before we speak, we would see an immediate change in the quality of our communication, as well as the quality of our relationships. This is a principle that Proverbs makes very clear.

Proverbs 15:28 ~ The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.

In others words, give your heart a little time to tell your mouth what to say.


          Our words carry enormous weight, and can carry severe consequences. More than we sometimes think. They have the ability to impact people for a very long time, shaping and molding who they are and influencing the direction and path that they take. The bible says that faith comes by hearing, (Romans 10:17) So we should ask ourselves; “what are my words making people believe about themselves, and how are my words shaping my own beliefs?

          Words can build courage and strength or they can discourage and weaken. They can minister grace and life, or pain and death. They can build and edify, or they can tear down and destroy. They not only communicate, they also create. 

Luke 6:45 – A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

          What treasure have you been storing away in your heart? Did you even know that you had a store? Whether you know it or not, your heart is being filled with something. The things that you give attention to, look at, and hear fills your heart, and whatever you are full of comes out when you speak. A minister once told me, ” When you get squeezed with problems, what’s inside you WILL come out.” It is so true. So, when a Christian gets squeezed Christ should come out.

          God’s Word is the obvious choice if we are to store treasure in our heart. His Words are spirit and life, they are health and medicine, they are full of grace and they are truth. When you are full of God’s Word your communications carry a part of HIM with it. Your speech becomes a tool that God can use to build you up and impart grace to others.

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 best definition of grace is: “The divine influence on the heart, and its reflection in the life.”

          There are few things more rewarding than to know that you have been used by God to influence another person for HIM. To impart His grace and leave that person better off than before you spoke to them. Man! It just doesn’t get any better!

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          “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). Every day, we are shaping reality for ourselves, and others who hear our words. The choice is ours. How will our words impact others? How will your words impact YOU and your family? Are you determined to make progress in this area? Do you see the need?

          I have a little saying that I try to live by. As my wife will attest, I don’t always do it, but I’m still growing, PRAISE GOD! The saying is this:

“Before you speak, make sure it is an improvement on silence.”

          Just doing that one little thing will keep you from all kinds of grief.

          The Word of God is full of commands to keep His word before our eyes and in our mouth. It’s clear that words must be treated as a stewardship. I will leave you with two of my favorite scriptures on the importance of stewarding words. Be blessed!

Joshua 1:8 ~ This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Proverbs 4:20-22 – My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; 22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.

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The Spirit of Faith

ggwer          There is no other topic on faith that is more controversial in religious circles than the one we are about to cover, yet this is the one principle you must understand to operate in faith. The Spirit of faith is the life of faith and is the essential element required to get results. It is God’s method and it never changes. This is a spiritual LAW, based on a principle that God has laid out for us in His Word. Before we get into it, lets establish God’s general method of operation, how He chooses to do things:

1 Corinthians 1:26-28 ~ For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the
things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,

          Do you see the pattern here? God’s chosen way of doing things is completely opposite of what we think is natural. That being said, we can see why this principle is so misunderstood. You must force yourself to think this way and trust that God knows what He is talking about.

          Keep in mind what it is saying in the above scripture. God has chosen the foolish, weak, base, and despised things to put to shame the “wise and mighty”…..and here we are …The Chosen! That thought alone should produce a little humility.

          True power comes from doing things  God’s way and that way will seem foolish to you and those around you. It even seems foolish to most Christians because they are woefully ignorant of the gospel. Here is the principle:

Romans 4:17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many
nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

          God chose this method of using things that are not manifest (things that you cannot see, smell, touch, etc.) to bring to nothing the things that are manifest. This is what we see in the New Testament healings by Jesus. To almost every miracle of healing He added a comment such as, “Thy faith hath saved thee”; “According to your faith be it done unto you”; “Thy faith hath made thee whole”; “ If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes”.

          God has chosen the unseen force of faith (the thing that is NOT manifest) to bring to nothing the things are manifest. (sickness and disease, poverty, oppression, etc.)

      faith-fear-teen    One great enemy of our faith is fear of the visible and tangible. The church has become a slave to what they see. We make a huge deal out of deeds and very little of words.  To understand this principle of “Calling things that are not as though they were”, we must understand the power of words. The first chapter of John holds a tremendous key.

John 1:1-3 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

          Understand that God has not changed. He now dwells inside regenerate man and still works by this one unchangeable process: According to verse 3, ALL THINGS ARE STILL MADE WITH THE WORD, AND NOTHING IS MADE WITHOUT THE WORD.

          One responsibility lies with man, and it is so pivotal that the entire outcome is dependant on this one activity … Man must carry out the process of faith.

          This is no magic formula, no magicians trick. This is not trying to “get God to do something”. This is simply man co-operating with God and yielding to this creative/re-creative process. The process involves believing, speaking, and holding fast to what you say until your faith becomes substance and is tangible.

Hebrews 11:1-3Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.  By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

“A heart of faith, expressed by the word of faith, results in the substance of faith, if we hold fast our confidence.”

          God uses Abraham (the father of our faith) as the example for this process of faith. God changed his name from ABRAM to ABRAHAM. Abraham literally means “father of a multitude”. Was he a father of a multitude when his name was changed? No, not immediately, but when he changed his name to Abraham, every time he heard that name, the spirit of faith was released and now the Spirit of God had a legal right to bring it to pass in the natural realm. This is the Spirit of Faith in action.

The book of James gives us some insight on why faith works this way:

James 2:26  For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

In this passage, James is likening faith to the body, and works of faith to the spirit. The spirit must be present for the body to have life, and works of faith must be present for faith to be alive. In other words; Works of faith are the spirit of faith. Works of faith are what brings life to your faith and keeps it alive. Works simply mean, “corresponding action that affirms your belief.” So what is the spirit of faith? I’m glad you asked.

2 Corinthians 4:13 – And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 

4r5       There are other ways to apply works to your faith, but the primary way is to speak what you believe. Often enough, this is the only works required for you to get results. I know it seems foolish, but we have already seen that God uses foolish things like this to accomplish His will on the earth.

Lets look at an example in Jesus life and ministry;

Mark 11:12-14 ~ 12And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: 13And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. 14And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

Mark 11:20-22 ~ 20And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. 22And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

          Even Jesus, when He spoke to the fig tree, did not see results that very minute. They did not see the results of His  “cursing the fig tree” until the next morning. Many people get discouraged when they confess God’s word and don’t see results right away. They speak to their disease or problem, they declare what God’s word says about their situation and if it doesn’t manifest when they think it should, they give up and cast away their confidence. They don’t hold fast to their confession, so they get no results. Faith requires follow through.

Hebrews 10:23 ~ Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

          The word “profession” is the same word used for confession. We must trust God that what He said is true, and we must trust the process of faith that He has ordained, calling those things that are not manifest as though they were. If truly love God, and trust Him, we will commit to the process that He has put in place and our victory is assured.

1 John 5:4 ~ … and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Understanding the power of words.

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          There are many teachings floating around about the power of words as defined by the Bible, but let’s look at it from the point of science, in conjunction with the Bible. Science is not in disagreement with God, on the contrary, science is just man’s way of figuring out how God does things. If we understand this going in, we will see that science and God must always agree. If they do not, then our science is incorrect, or our understanding of God is flawed.

          Let’s start with some scriptures that stress the amazing power that words produce:

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

   …Death and life are produced by our words.

Matthew 12:36-37 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

You will be justified or condemned by our words.

Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

  …Words contain creative power.

Proverbs 13:3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.

…We are to steward our words carefully.

James 3:2-6   For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

…Words set the course and nature or your life.

          These are just a few scriptures that stress the power and importance of words, there are many, many more. The topic is replete throughout the Bible.

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          Words are the most powerful force available to humanity. They carry immeasurable significance and yet we have a shallow understanding of how they work, and how they affect the quality of our lives, and the lives of those around us. To find out at what words are, and how they function, first we must define exactly what a word is.

          This is my definition from a literal standpoint, in the light God’s word:

A word is a verbal or written communication that carries ideas, creating thoughts and images. The very nature of the word shapes the image that it produces.”

          If I say; “Black Labrador Retriever with a red collar,” I just put a specific image in your head. You took what I said, you processed it through your memory and experience, and it produced a specific thought/picture in your mind. It produced an image!

          We must have a preconceived image already present in our thinking for images to form. Unfortunately, we have so much memory and experience of our fallen, carnal nature that these images tend to dominate our thought life and make up our minds in advance that this is who we really are. Jesus didn’t die for us to remain the same and someday go to heaven, He died so that we could be transformed into His IMAGE, so that God’s original purpose for mankind could be restored.

Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Hebrews 1:3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

          We see in this verse that Jesus was not only the express image of God, but He upheld all things by His word. This means that, among other things, the image of the Father was upheld in Him by the power of His words.

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          The point of this teaching is to help you be conformed into what God has created you to be. What you say about yourself is important. Are you saying what God has said about you, or letting life speak louder than truth? What is your “self-image?”?Does it look like the sum of your life experience to this point, or does it look like Jesus? If you don’t see yourself as a son or daughter of God in your heart, you have the ability to change that image through the power of your words.