I've been thinking a lot over the last few days about my speech and communication with others. It started with a book our church family has been reading in small groups. Truth be told, I dreaded reading this book. I was bored by the last book we read by this author. But even more so, I dreaded the topic. Love. 1 Corinthians 13 love at that! I dreaded it, not because I think I know all about it, but because I know that this is an area of weakness for me and I just didn't want to work on it right now! Not that I don't want to be loving, please don't misunderstand me. But because I didn't necessarily want to feel guilty for not becoming any more loving than I already am. This is an area that I often feel so deficient. 'Creative' loving is something that is emphasized heavily at our church, and for good Biblical reason. But I am just not a 'creative' person. 'Crafts' have never been my thing. I am capable of making pretty things, but I don't come up with the ideas for them myself. I can follow a tutorial (of which I have found SO many on Pinterst lately! It's fantastic!!) But the creativity, the going out of my way... I just didn't want to have to grow in this area. Wow... honesty at it's best, right?!
This book (have I mentioned it's name? Maximum Impact by Wayne Mack) has not challenged me to make more crafts for others (refreshingly so!). It has, however, helped me get a better picture in my brain of what true love looks like, and what it does not look like. And perhaps it didn't quite look like the picture in my head I've been beating myself up over for the last 4 years (sign of relief!). It does however require change on my part, and my speech is one area that I've been really challenged to consider. I believe it was in the chapter discussing 'Love is not rude' where he talks so much about our speech and how we talk to others. The Holy Spirit convicted me of three areas of my life in which I struggle... on the phone (I'm just an akward phone talker!), when I'm giving instructions to my kids, and when I'm communicating with someone of a differing viewpoint (perhaps an unbeliever, or someone who takes a largely different stance on an important issue). I want to be a good communicator and to communicate truth in loving ways so that my words are easy to hear and hopefully to take to heart. So here are some ways I want to make some changes. Perhaps these are areas others struggle in as well and my application can help you out too.
On the phone: I often cut people off and speak in short sentences. I don't mean to. I think I'm just too busy trying to get my own words out. I also have a short tone of voice on the phone. I need to converse as I would in person and let others finish their thoughts before I start speaking. Perhaps even wait for a long enough pause so that I am sure they have completed their thought. Often I get off the phone just feeling akward. I need to be patient and listen to others better before I speak.
With my kids: This is a big one. I was reminded of two scriptures from Proverbs as I thought about this. My son is 2 1/2 and really struggles to hear instruction from mom and dad lately. I want to help him in this by putting these two verses into practice. 15:2 says 'The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable' and 16:21 says 'Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness'. My temptation with the kids is to grow firm instead of sweet. But how much better do they listen to my sweet voice? Sweetness can help make knowledge acceptable for them. Speak kindly, Abbie! Make learning fun!
With those who oppose me: I get easily frustrated with those who think differently than me and can tend to avoid conversations that go in those directions. Of course that depends a lot on that other person, how defensive they are, etc. But I want to be good, particularly at sharing the gospel with those who don't believe it. It's the power of the gospel that saves! I need to be patient and calm and pay attention to those who are good at sharing it to pick up things that I can incorporate. Something else that Mack mentioned was speaking with humility, as a learner. This seems to be important particularly in this context. I want to speak sweetly, kindly, confident in the gospel, but with humility as a learner.
I want to have acceptable speech that is full of love, is not rude, and is easy for others to hear. Then perhaps God can use me to teach others His word.