So easy to say, such a simple definition, but hard to live.
The emphasis of what I would like to share with you in this blog article is geared towards learning to listen from the heart rather than just the rational mind. The communication skills we will talk about and put in to practice will equip us for all of life – work, home, and friends. Some of the skills may seem very basic, and we may think we already have them down pat and it is ridiculous to go over them again. We may even say to ourselves: “Everybody knows that.” If we do, why don’t we practice it, especially with people closest to us?
I believe that our emotional health and ability to communicate is related to the growth of the fruit of the Spirit. As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit He is growing and maturing us in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23 – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control).
We are learning to practically demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit as we begin to listen and communicate from the heart.
Ephesians 4:20 admonishes us to “Let nothing come out of your mouth that does not edify and build up one another.” That’s quite an assignment when we realize that the power of life and death is in the tongue (Prov. 18:21). James 3 also has a lot to say about the power of the tongue.
Scripture puts great value on speaking timely, helpful words that build lasting friendships.
Some of my favorite scriptures about communication are found in Proverbs:
- Prov. 25:11 – “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a network of silver.
- Prov. 15:23 – “A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word.”
- Prov. 12:18 – “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
- Prov. 15:4 – “A deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
God wants us to communicate with one another with the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. We know we can’t do this without help. It is an amazing reality that we have a Helper. The gospel of John tells us that Jesus went away so He could send the Holy Spirit – the Helper – the one who stands alongside us to instruct us, to comfort us, to lead us. The Holy Spirit helps us personally and helps us encourage each other with acts and words of kindness.
The goal of learning communication skills is “Christ in you the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone, and teaching everyone in all wisdom, that we may present every person mature in Christ.” Col. 1:27-29.
Some of us have never been taught skills that enable us to communicate with kindness and grace. We need intentional instruction as well as healthy modeling in order to learn. We tend to follow patterns of behavior that are modeled in our families and in culture. The good news is that what we have learned can be unlearned and replaced with new, healthy patterns of communication.
Watch for Part Two of this series on Communication to start learning some basic building blocks of the art of listening from the heart.