Guest Post: Five Big No No’s in Communication

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This post was written by Pastor Harley Snode and posted at his website. I appreciate him agreeing to allow me to guest post this thought provoking article. 


Would you agree that our communication skills are slipping at an alarming rate toward the grammatical gutter?  The trends of the “Communication Age” are not just concerning on an academic or social level but also on a moral and spiritual level.  I recently read, “Your thumbs are your new tongue. Guard them carefully. When they are used a lot, trouble is sure to follow.” 

Jesus, our Savior and Lord who still makes the verbal rules, admonishes us, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (Jn. 6:63)

May I provide you with five never-valid modes of profitless communication with your thumbs, lips, or even non-verbal communication:

Exaggeration-a statement that represents something as better or worse than it really is.

Pathology: Frequently employs one hundred percent statements (“always, never”); Distorts the positive/negative attributes without including the offsetting characteristics or clarifying context of other data points; Driven with one-upmanship toward peers at home, work, church, etc.; Comparison is king

Consequences: Loss of credibility; Doing ministry and spiritual activity for the wrong motivations; Breaking with reality; Deceived into doing the opposite with personal sin-diminishing/excusing it away; Not allowing Christ alone to be the source of identity, acceptance, success (Do you know that it is impossible to exaggerate when speaking exclusively of Christ?!?!)

This exploding expression in our post-modern culture has led to a proclivity to propagate and accept “fake news” that fits our predisposed bias.  (We not only widely accept grammatical errors in our texting; we also tolerate and embrace fudged figures and skewed facts more readily than ever before.)

Pessimism-a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future.

Pathology: Savors and shares any juicy story that reveals the underbelly of a celebrity, politician, or organization; Remains aloof and “analytical” where one should be engaged and participatory; Deflects from own weaknesses by redirecting the spotlight to the shortcomings of others; Trolling for “gotcha” content online

Consequences: Constantly living in a reactionary mode; Consumed with fear; Constantly possessing a critical, cynical spirit; Inability to share meaningful, intimate connection with other people; Lost opportunities to edify others; A dim, despondent view of the future that leaves God out of the equation

This verbal trend leads to our default, valid position always being negative instead of the peace-giving bias toward a “good report” (Ph. 4:6-8).

Sarcasm-the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

Pathology: Using so-called humor to communicate caustic truth; Indifference to the backstory of other’s mistakes/failures; Jumping to conclusions or assumptions in a reckless manner; A pervasive focus upon making others feel stupid; Thriving on “awkward”

Consequences: Inability to hold a serious conversation or consider serious subject matter; Squandering verbal ability with meaningless banter; Immaturity in tone and pace of conversation; Digressing into a person with zero influence (Reasonable people ultimately tune this tone out.)

The bottom line is, as my high school English teacher Mrs. Donough repeatedly put it, “Sarcasm is not an effective means of communication.” (This is especially true for those of us who possess a God-given “pulpit” of public influence.)

Passive Aggression-indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation, as in procrastinating, pouting, or misplacing important materials.

(Before we go on, I must clarify that I have NOBODY as the mental profile picture beside each or all of these on the list.  Therefore this is not a passive-aggressive post toward someone indirectly.)

Pathology: Speaks to everybody except the person with whom there is a problem; Posts vague references of criticism on online hoping for third-party sympathy and goaded retaliation from the person being indirectly attacked; Studies to be adept at “pushing the buttons” that evoke strong, negative emotions in others

Consequences: Squandering excessive amounts of time hoping to garner sympathy or drama that rarely materializes; Never addressing/resolving conflicts; A growing inability to have direct dialogue with other people; Shrinking numbers of people to whom you can still approach in real time and space and have sweet fellowship; Can only focus on the loud chinks in the armor of others

This is a blight upon the local church today…especially through the enabling of social media where everyone has a voice-a voice to attack issues and people for which they have no responsibility or influence.  (If you cannot be a part of the solution, you have no business speaking on the problem!)

Stream of Consciousness-a literary style in which a character’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions are depicted in a continuous flow uninterrupted by objective description or conventional dialogue.

Obviously social media has unleashed this verbal tendency into a constant temptation with instantaneous access to the world.  (This trend is especially embodied by many of our leaders today in politics, entertainment, sports, etc.)

Pathology: Unfiltered emotions spewing out; Immediate, reactionary thoughts online or in person (“thinking out loud”); Discussing in public forums what should be reserved for private reflection; Unwillingness to be still and quiet; Way to much volume (in amount and decibel levels) of talk,talk, talk

Consequences: Regret about words that can never be taken back; Unnecessary/unproductive drama with complete strangers or expired relationships from the past; Expression of underdeveloped, immature content that discourages or misleads others; Flippant interaction/sharing with crude or inappropriate content

The most sobering reality of “just speaking my mind” is that it eliminates any sacred space for the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly or the Spirit of God to saturate our soul-all that is left is carnal consciousness!

You can like or dislike this post, agree or disagree but…listen to what Jesus has to say:

Mt 12:32-33 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

And we honestly think they’re “only words” and “don’t matter?”  Nothing God-honoring was or ever will be built with exaggeration, pessimism, sarcasm, passive-aggression, or stream of consciousness!  Ever!  (They will always be faulty building materials no matter how normalized they become.)  I give you permission to confront me if you hear a single syllable online or in person where my communication wanders into one of these five no nos.  Will you grant that same permission to the Lord, your spouse, your pastor, your mentor, even your children/grandchildren?  It is time to elevate our God-given ability from the world’s pig pen of meaningless chatter to the propagation of the grace and truth that is found only in Jesus Christ!

What other verbal tendencies do you observe that we need to nix in our progressive sanctification?

Useful Apps

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“There is an app for that.” While that certainly seems to be true, I have found some apps to be especially helpful. Here are some of them!

YouVersion—website

Here is one I use on a daily basis. This app enables me to have a plan for reading or listening through the Bible. I also love its ability to create church events on it for free. We are testing it our with our Acts series

Hoopla—iOS/Android

This is an app that I have been using for about a year. Essentially it is your public library at your fingertips—anytime, anywhere. This gives you access to TONS of digital content for free. I have been blessed to listen to many Christian audio books from great preachers and writers in the past and present. 

Swapp—website

This is an app that I have been watching for a couple of years and seems to be making great improvements. It is a soulwinning management app. Recently testing it for our church’s outreach.

Commission—iOS/Android

Ever wish you could pull up a tract on your smartphone and use it to give the Gospel? Well, now you can. You can even keep a prospect list on it! It is a fantastic Gospel tool.

Abiding Radio—how to listen

What you listen really influences you! Many times Christian radio does not sound so Christian. I have enjoyed listening to this internet radio station through their app. Give it a try! You will find the music to be Christ-centered and spiritually nourishing. 

A Follower’s Testimony

I was privileged to meet Jed Duarte, a third generation missionary to Brazil, for coffee as a get-to-know meeting. Very quickly, my heart was blessed by his testimony of absolute surrender. Our theme this year is I Will Follow. Here is a young man who made that decision and is having the time of his life. I wanted to share it, so we sat down for a quick interview. Jed and his family will be with us at Grace Baptist Church on September 30 for the final Sunday of Mission Weeks.

Focus

IMG_0032There is no end of talk about the characteristics of the millennial generation. As a millennial myself, a characteristic that I am burdened about is the willingness to criticize the older generation. Sure, every generation, including the millennials, has its blind spots and failures. You would be hard pressed to find a preacher in his 60’s who would not readily admit theirs. My question is this. What should the focus of millennials be as we are taking the mantle of ministry? It seems that many of my generation are so focused on the issues of the past, valid and invalid, that they have forgotten the present mission. Many would rather sit behind a keyboard and criticize than knock on doors and preach the Good News. God did not commission us to be critiques but to be couriers. I believe we need to refocus and set our priorities right.

  1. Focus on Continuing
    Paul commanded Timothy to continue not critique in the things he had learned. Let’s not be so in love with “new” that we ditch what is good old, real Christian practice. I hear so many criticize the last generation’s standards as legalistic throwing them out the window not realizing they have just ripped out key protections of purity wisely put in place.  Check your heart when you find yourself zealous to disregard that which you have been taught. Be careful to follow the wise advice of the Apostle Paul to continue in the things you have been taught.
  2. Focus on the Commission
    In these last days, we must use the strength of our youth to preach Jesus boldly, publicly and constantly. The devil would love to sidetrack us with the wrong doing of a preacher, a vendetta against standards or a desire to be accepted. Bottom line, Jesus has called us to follow Him so that we could be fishers of men. We need a laser focus on the great commission influencing others to follow suit and turn our worlds upside down. Have you stopped to think that the time taken to write that criticizing blog may have been better used planning an outreach campaign or just getting some tracts and going soul winning. Let’s be busy for Jesus and for souls!
  3. Focus on the Christlikeness 
    This is the ultimate goal of every believer. Jesus has clearly revealed Himself in the Word and commands us follow His example. Let us be passionate about following His commands to hate sin, to be holy, to love not the world, to preach the Gospel everywhere, to walk as children of the light and to prove all things. It saddens me to hear millenials criticize the older generation’s practices as legalistic and unbiblical while many of them simply had a desire to follow Jesus and obey his commands—to be Christlike. We must personally focus on following and becoming like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Four Points

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Do you long for God to move in your life, in your church and in our nation? I believe that God is still in the business of hearing and answering prayer for revival. Some may scoff at the notion of revival, yet time and time again throughout history God has a revived His people as the cried out to Him in contrition. God is looking for believers to be desperate for His reviving presence. As you pray for revival here are some helpful points to personally consider.

  1. You must put away any unconfessed sin. Isaiah 57:15 “For thus saith the high and lofty One
    That inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, With him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” The heart of our Lord is to revive. We must do our part and He will do His. 
  2. You must put away any doubtful habit. There is plenty that dazzles and distracts. Some we see as outright sin and we avoid it. However, some habits are like weights that hold us back from all that God desires to do in and through our lives. What is your weight? Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” No earthly habit is worth the substitution of God’s reviving presence.
  3. You must obey the Holy Spirit promptly.  John 16:13  “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:” The role of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to guide into the truths that we are to be living. We cannot please God if we choose not to listen and respond.
  4. You must confess Christ publicly. Psalm 51:13 “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”  The revived believer will have no problem speaking out for Christ. It will be the desire of his heart. 

Revival is still possible and God’s Word gives us guidance in how to experience it. May God cause my generation to have a passion to see God move.  Remember, with God all things are possible.

In this post I expanded on  Robert Evans’ Four Points concerning revival.