While we have progressed in so many ways through the generations in technological advances, medical and scientific breakthroughs, while we have seen significant advances in equality in race, gender and colour, one of the ongoing challenges for mankind is still effective communication.
Without strong communication - marriages break down, families are divided, and friendships drift and fall apart. We need all need communication so that we are not living in isolation to the world around us.
Jesus is the Master of communication
Jesus connected with large crowds and individuals and at every level He made a personal impression on their lives. We can learn so much from studying His life in the Gospels.

Key Scriptures:
Proverbs 18:21 “Life and death are in the power of the tongue”
Proverbs 10:11 “the words of the godly are a life giving fountain”

Communication Barriers
No frame of reference – Jesus considered who he was talking to and adjusted his points of connection to suit. He talked of seeds, ploughing and seasons to farming communities. He talked about fishing to fishing communities. His parables painted pictures that people connected with. We can cause communication barriers by using language and scenarios that people don’t understand.
Presumption – we think we know or understand where the conversation is heading because we use filters, or jump to conclusions based on our own story. Finishing other people’s sentences, cutting off the conversation, “mind reading” are all presumptuous. It is when we finish others people’s sentences, ‘mind read’ and jumping to conclusions.

Our souls – what is in us will overflow into our conversation, is it life giving or destructive?
Read Luke 6:45 “what you say overflows from what is in your heart”
Read Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it”

“Me” focus. This is when we turn conversation to be about us [me]
Read Proverbs 18:2 “Fools have no interest in understanding, but only in expressing their own opinion.”

Reacting. Talking before thinking, becoming defensive, “Gunnysacking” this where many little negative things are saved up and let loose all of a sudden where people are left asking, where did that come from? Exaggeration and making excuses can also be signs of reaction rather than responding. Maximising and minimising, using words like “you always” ... “you never”...

Fear. Underlying fear can hold us back from building meaningful relationships or holding back from tough conversations we know we need to have.

Effective Communication
Value. Seeing every person as equal and of great value. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4).
Listening. Listening with our eyes, our heart, as well as intellect?
Prov 17:28 “even fools are thought wise when they keep silent. With their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.”

Styles of listening
1. Inattentive- somehow distracted by other things.
2. Competitive- absorbed in your own thoughts. Your internal voice is louder than the person speaking. 100% focused on what you are going to say next.
Prov 17:28 “even fools are thought wise when they keep silent. With their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.”
3. Supportive- The key to success as a listener! When you are really listening to what others are saying, you are with them in that moment.
4. Understanding. Seek first to understand then be understood.
5. Body language. Visual 55% auditory [pitch, tone volume etc] 38% actual words 7%
Be authentic. Bring the real you into your conversations.

HOMEWORK
Have a discussion with your family or close friends and ask how you could improve your communication

Sample Discussion Questions
1. What are some of the parables /stories you remember Jesus telling and why do you remember them ?
2. Who is someone who has added value to your life through meaningful communication?
3. In your family of origin, which style/s from the lists above had a role in shaping you as a person?
4. How has your communication style changed as you have matured in your discipleship?
5. Which areas do you consider you could ask the Lord to help you work on?

Pray for each other, that the Holy Spirit would help you to be one who uses the power of communication to impart life into people around you. That you will reflect Jesus in your family, amongst your friends and the community He has placed you in.

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