“I know you believe you understood what you think I said; ‘However, I’m not sure you realize That what I think you heard is not what I meant!”
Communication – sometimes an evasive little creature. Just about the time we think we’ve mastered her, she surprises us and eludes our grasp.
Exactly what is communication? And can we as Christians be good communicators?
Good ole Webster defines communication as “The exchange of thoughts, messages, or the like by speech, signals, or writing.” Cedar in his book, 7 Keys to Maximum Communication says this:
“Communication is more complex than merely transmitting information. You see communication involves persons – not objects. Effective communication requires not merely the transmission of information, but the sharing of a message; not only the sharing of a message, but the sharing of the meaning of the message; not only the sharing of the meaning of the message, but the sharing of life itself – which is communion.”
We as Christians can be good communicators. The following elements, taken from Philippians, can help us become better communicators with one another. They include feelings or emotions, attitudes, opinions, and facts.
TIMOTHY (Philippians 2:19-21)
Paul communicates Timothy’s attitude of selflessness … the rarity of it. Timothy was genuinely concerned for their welfare. Again, do you communicate to others the selflessness you see in individuals? Do you know if others are communicating this about you? What do you think this does to a relationship? It promotes teamwork, encouragement to continue on in God’s work, and builds a closeness of heart among people. When was the last time you communicated to others the selflessness you’ve seen in individuals? If you don’t, why not? As you evaluate your life, are you communicating that you are seeking after the interests of Christ Jesus, or is it something else?
Illustration: Very few people I know are willing to give up their time, and money (their life) to pour their lives into others, building up believers into Christ-likeness in other words. There is one person I admire very much, a man who has given his time and life to see people won to the Lord and to see individuals grow in their walk with the Lord. He does time-consuming research to prepare Bible studies, talks, and seminars. He trains individuals in planning and organizing meetings, retreats, conferences, making sure they run smooth and efficient. He cares enough to confront others about their sin in their lives, for their best welfare, as well as showing them how to evangelize, build up believers spiritually, give talks, etc. On top of it all, he sticks with them through thick-and-thin on their road to Christ-likeness. Those of you who have never gotten to know him may like to do so. His name is…
This one attitude, selflessness, can make us good communicators, if we want to be. It’s up to us to take and apply what we know. When we do, something happens to our relationships with others, and we find ourselves slowly discovering and understanding another person and seeing him or her unfold like a fresh spring rose. In doing so, perhaps God will grant us a garden of roses to nurture!!
ATTITUDE OF OTHER CENTEREDNESS – SELFLESSNESS
[ Philippians 1:1 ]
Here Paul includes Timothy, along with himself, in his letter to the Philippians. He gives credit where credit is due. As a co-worker, Paul is including Timothy in the work they are pouring their lives into.
When you work together with someone on a common goal, do you give the other person credit too, or do you tend to want people’s eyes focused on you? Do you look for ways that you can include your trainees in your conversation, especially if you have worked together? Why do you think this is even important to do? Do you think that perhaps including people in our conversation and giving credit where credit is due would promote teamwork and unity as opposed to competition and self-centeredness?
What are some ways that we can communicate selflessness in this way?
1) Use “we” or “us” instead of “I” or “me” when sharing about experiences, where applicable.
Illustration: When we go witnessing and then afterwards share the results, we can use “we” shared Christ with an individual, instead of “I” shared. Both people are engaged in spiritual battle, one is talking to the individual and one is praying for the situation, It’s teamwork, and it can be fun to communicate this to others.
2) Share experiences where applicable, where someone has helped you in some way. Use it as an opportunity to build the other person up instead of oneself.
Illustration: Several weeks ago, one of my room-mates and I went out for coffee. We brainstormed in order to come up with new questions for a relationship building game called “The Ungame.” She didn’t have to spend her time with me this way, but she did so to benefit all of us here. Plus, on top of it, it turned out to be just plain fun in seeking to help others.
[ Philippians 4:17 ]
What is Paul’s attitude here? What is he communicating? The Philippians had just sent him a gift; in fact, they had several times before also. Paul communicates an interest in their eternal rewards, not so much in the gift itself. Do you ever focus in on communicating with people that they are building rewards in heaven as a result of giving to others or to yourself? Or are you totally zeroing in on the gift and communicating your excitement in the gift alone?
Illustration: My room-mates and I have a friend who loves to give us plants and without those plants our apartment would look pretty dull. One incident, that I think back on, makes me laugh. I was all excited about a plant he was going to give us and was excited because he was excited. But as I stopped to think, I realized I was excited not in this silly little plant, but in the fact that he cared enough to take his time to meet a need in our lives and to be obedient to God. The very next time he provided us with something, I sent him a note sharing that I hoped and prayed God would bless him abundantly for his giving.
What do you think communicating the spiritual, eternal rewards does for the other person? For one, it makes them realize you are more concerned than merely for the getting of a gift. And two, it makes them aware you are concerned with them personally, their spiritual lives and development.
How can a person communicate selflessness in this way?
1) By verbally thanking another for their giving, attitude, or service, and focusing in on communicating that their rewards will be great in heaven.
2) By sharing examples you see of selfless attitudes, as motivators to others.
[ Philippians 1:23-24 ]
Here Paul has a great desire to go home to be with his Lord, but realizing how much the Philippians need him, he expresses his desire to stay on in his earthly body. Is this the way you feel, or is this your attitude? Are you so caught up in your desire to serve the Lord, so selfless, that you desire to be with the Lord, but because of the great need you see in others, you are willing to serve them instead? Paul communicates, “for your sake”. Got that? For your sake! Talk about selflessness!
Illustration: There have been times in my life where I would love to have been with my Lord. Sometimes I just get “homesick” so-to-speak for my Lord’s presence. I feel as though I am a stranger on this earth, on a trip, and I wish I could pack my bags and go home. But I realize that God has given me the privilege, and responsibility of giving my life to building up spiritually into Christ-likeness those I am working with because it is more necessary for them!
Do you communicate to your trainees or those around you that they are that important to you that you are willing to give your life, your time to them? What would it take for you to genuinely communicate that?
Illustration: Several weeks ago, I left my trainees/room-mates a dessert with a verse that expressed my attitude that I was excited about pouring my life and time into them. It read, “I have no greater joy than to hear my children walk in truth,” 3 John 1:4.
How does a person communicate selflessness in this way?
1) In Action: Actually giving of one’s time to see another grow spiritually, that is grow into Christ-likeness. Evangelizing!
Are you communicating selflessness by pouring your life into another person, giving of your time, talent, and treasure, so that another will know God in a very close, intimate way? Or, do you spend your time doing what YOU want to do?
Are we so concerned about non-Christians that we are communicating the gospel message to them, that Jesus Christ came to earth to die and pay the penalty for their sins so that they might have a right relationship with God? Or, are we so wrapped up in the fact of what others will think (pride), our feeling of inadequacy (unbelief), or thinking I don’t have time to do this because I’ve got too many other things to do (wrong priorities)? All of these, plus more, just boil down to one thing in our lives – self-centeredness! What do we really want to communicate?
2) In Word: Actually sharing your desire and concern to give your life to those you are already demonstrating it to in action.
Illustration: I often share how glad I am to have the trainees, Bible study members, and friends that I do by actually saying so or writing a little note and sharing that my efforts and desires are to see them become the people of God that He wants them to be! I could have my own house, a high paying job, a paid vacation overseas one month out of the year, and seven nights a week doing my own thing. But I’ve been that route – it’s very lonely, lacking fulfillment, and an eternal purpose. I found being self-centered is one of the loneliest places to be, and I found that building up believers into Christ-likeness was God’s divine plan to fill that basic need. The qualification … giving up all to follow Christ … selflessness!
When was the last time you communicated verbally with your trainees or Bible Study members that you were giving your life, your time, FOR THEIR SAKE?
Paul in Phil. 1:25-26 says “And, convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.” He is convinced of this fact! Is this what you communicate?
Then Paul also communicates that their confidence is not in him, but abounds in Christ Jesus. Is this where you direct people’s confidence? To God? Or do you tend to like to have people’s confidence in you? Why do you think you do so, if you do?
How can we communicate directing people’s confidence toward God?
1) By giving God the glory when complimented.
2) By communicating that it is only a result of being Spirit-filled or allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you that you are even able to do what you are doing. Paul takes the people’s eyes off himself to focus on what Christ has done through Him. He eliminates self-centeredness.
JESUS (Philippians 2:3-8)
Paul first communicates directly “Let’s not be self-centered, but selfless.” Then he communicates an example, the ultimate example of Christ.
Do you ever tell someone to regard one another as more important than himself? Or not to merely look out for their own personal interests, but also the interests of others? Do you communicate Jesus Christ as your ultimate model example? Or, is this attitude something that society looks down upon? Society communicates a “Macho” “Let others serve me!” attitude. Which attitude are you communicating or want to communicate?
How does a person communicate selflessness?
1) Most importantly by giving up your life (i.e., your time and rights) as Christ did, in order to evangelize and build up believers spiritually.
Illustration: Christ gave up the comforts of heaven, His equality with God, and even died for us who did not even deserve it. How many of us communicate this same selflessness by giving up a comfortable, plush room or home, good home-cooking, giving up our right to be independent, and giving our time to individuals who may turn their backs on us and reject Christ? What would you like to communicate as your heart’s desire?
2) By doing little things, such as running errands or picking up items for another if you are in the same vicinity, sharing where sales are going on, helping someone out who is busy, encouraging one another.
Illustration: Around the apartments where many of us live, we share with one-another where the good sales on food are, and occasionally pick up items for each other when we do go shopping. Another example is that when I am really busy, one of my room-mates generally volunteers to help me each month with a newsletter that I send out. He wouldn’t have to use his time in this way, yet he does.
3) By verbally sharing with people examples of selflessness in the Bible and examples you see in others.
Illustration: I am really excited to see many here who are willing to give up their time in order to lead Bible studies, teach seminars, and take people out witnessing. They could be out doing their own thing!