Tuesday, October 14, 2008
“You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips (Gookin).” -Oliver Goldsmith
“Communication breakdown, It’s always the same, I’m having a nervous breakdown, Drive me insane!”
-Led Zeppelin, Communication Breakdown
“The best leaders, almost without exception and at every level, are master users of stories and symbols [they are masters of communication] (Gookin).” -Tom Peters
One of the seven core leadership skills of the National Outdoor Leadership School is communication skills. Communication skills emphasize the appropriate times to communicate, when to speak up and when to remain silent. Communication skills also create an open atmosphere and enable a group or team to know what is expected of them and what they can expect from you. Communication keeps people informed of changes in situations and requires active listening and clarification from both the communicator and those who are being communicated to (Leach). Communication provides much needed clarification, avoids mistakes, risks, and dangers, and teaches valuable information that fosters growth and maturity.
In traveling the wilderness of the Christian life, it is essential that we communicate effectively the gospel and teachings of Jesus, not only with our words, but with our lives and our actions. Our lives tell a story and teach a lesson. We are all called to teach and communicate the gospel and teachings of Christ. We communicate these important teachings more by what we do than what we say. According to Wikipedia, “There are 3 major parts in any communication which are body language, voice, tonality and words. According to the research (Mehrabian and Ferris,'Inference of Attitude from Nonverbal Communication in Two Channels' in The Journal of Counselling Psychology Vol.31, 1967,pp.248-52), 55% of impact is determined by body language--postures, gestures, and eye contact, 38% by the tone of voice, and 7% by the content or the words used in the communication process. Although the exact percentage of influence may differ from variables such as the listener and the speaker, communication as a whole strives for the same goal and thus, in some cases, can be universal.”
Paul says this about the Christian communicating with those who are on the outside of the church, and outside of faith in Jesus in Colossians 4:5-6:
“Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out (Peterson).”
Just as we should work together and communicate well to navigate this wilderness life, we should also communicate with others in a way that brings them closer to God, in a way that honors God, and respects the people who we are talking with. Paul tells us that we are to bring the best out of others, and not put them down, or cut them out. This is true in any communication, with anyone, and under any circumstance. How much more should we bring out the best in someone and be gracious to them if they are in need of something that we have?
In this case, as it pertains to following Jesus and making Him known, we are to communicate the good news of who Jesus is. Because all of us need to know Him more, it is important that we draw closer to Jesus and make the most out of every opportunity to know Jesus more and to make Jesus known to others who we live and work with, in a gracious manner. It is also important to understand that this communication occurs just as much in what we don’t say, and how we say it, as it does in the words that we using.
See what I am saying; hear what I am saying,
Gookin, John. Wilderness Wisdom. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003.
Leach, John Gookin and Shari. The Nols Leadership Educator Notebook: A Toolbox for Leadership Educators. Lander, WY: The National Outdoor Leadership School, 2004.
Peterson, Eugene H. The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo: NavPress, 2002.
Wikipedia, Communication. 2008