Can You Hear Me?

If you won’t communicate either by expression or listening you can’t have a healthy relationship. Spouses who won’t listen or talk to each other are destroying any opportunity to have a blessed family. Leaders who do not express dreams, hopes, expectations, encouragement and instruction to the church will never lead the church to the glorious maturity God wants her to have. Churches that stop listening to elders and deacons and fellow members limp along until they finally die.

Most troubles start when feelings are hurt causing people halt their interaction with one another. It is then that people either assume what the other person is thinking or what they meant. This is a dangerous practice. Only when we truly listen and then respond calmly and controlled can a amicable solution come.

Granny always reminded us that God gave us one mouth and two ears so we should do more listening than talking. However, in some cases getting someone to talk about what is hurting or is bothering them is almost impossible. My wife often reminds me to “Use words Joe, I can understand them.” Often I just expect her to know what I am thinking, I expect her to realize why I am hurt, or sad or sullen. That supposition is unfair and causes even more problems.
Talking about hopes and disappointments will give your relationships more building blocks for strength. Just knowing what and how another person thinks makes for deeper comradeship.

Many people suffering marriage, family or church struggles can trace them back to the halting of open communication. Paul helps us to see our need to work toward peaceful relations with everyone.

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:18

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Romans 14:19

“complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:2

None of these directives from the apostle can happen until we are willing to communicate with one another. Euodia and Syntyche were hurting each other and the family of God. Paul pleaded with them to work out their differences for the benefit of all.

The work of preaching seems to some to be one sided because it is all talking. However, the best preaching comes from elders listening to the cares of the flock and then having the preacher bring God’s word on the subject. Leaders must listen with a heart to really understand the needs of a church. Often what people complain about is not the real sources of the problem. This is true with all people, they have a limit to the stress they can take and it might just be the straw that broke the camel’s back that is lamented. But, if you dig deeper one learns that other trials and hurts are just below the surface. Urging people to discuss their pain might reveal opportunities to minister to them.

The fine art of communication is so multifaceted that many of us never learn to understand it all. However the two most basic are talking and listening. Use these two regularly and your will bless your own life and those of others.
Having said all of this I am also mindful of the times in life when we need to do no talking. Sometimes speech is like gasoline on the fire. It is better to remain silent than badger someone who is so hurt or angry that they cannot bear hearing another word. During those times it is best to give time for cooling of temper and healing of brokenness. This is in itself communication of humility and love. I don’t have to have the last word in the argument. Leaving a conversation open for later resolution is far better than closing communication for ever.

Joe Chase

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