words

READ IT OUT LOUD FIRST

Please read that out-loud to me.

That is a request one pastor makes when people send him an email of criticism or correction. He adds that he wants to make sure he gets the “right tone and emphasis intended”.

Face-to-face communication is usually best, especially when there is critique involved. This was true of handwritten letters and it is even more true with email, and it’s quadruply (not a word, but you get the idea) true for social media responses.

There are two big challenges to communication at a distance:

1.  Our communication may not express the care and respect that was in our heart. A single word can create unintended negativity

2.  Our communication may use abrupt or harsh of language that we would have the sense not to use face to face.

Part of Great Commandment living is to love our neighbor as our self. This requires that we express love in every communication. Remember communication includes not only what we intend to convey, it equally involves how the other person receives it.

Here is some wisdom for electronic communication:

Try not to communicate in the emotion of the moment

Give time before you respond to what others have written to you

Read it aloud to yourself first

Ask yourself, if you would say this face-to-face

Would you say this if someone you respect was there to listen?

Does this communication have the agenda of the gospel in it?

Does this even need to be said?

And if you must respond in a corrective way:

Be prayerful

Be humble

Ask someone else to read it first

Include some form of encouragement

Soften the language as much as possible

Seek clarification, in case you misunderstood them!

Try to present your correction in the form of a question. This helps the other person think about your concern themselves.

You can read the article that inspired this post here.

“I’M NOT DEFENSIVE!”

calvin-and-hobbes

“I’m Not Being Defensive!”

This is one of the most common statements made by people who are in the midst of being defensive. It’s like people who angrily say, “I’m not angry!”

Being defensive is a common problem, because it comes out of self-centeredness, an area in which most of us are well gifted. Yes, that was a wee bit sarcastic.

When we are defensive, it not only leads to unnecessary conflict with people, it also makes it much harder to resolve conflict with people.

As people of the gospel, the only agenda we have been given for people is that of gospel reconciliation. We will not be able to fulfill that agenda with everyone, but it remains our goal at all times.

We see this truth of Christian living clearly laid before us by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17-20:

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

If we are to be seriously engaged in Great Commission and Great Commandment living, then we must labor at identifying and rooting out our expressions of defensiveness. Otherwise we are operating in the world perhaps with morality, but not out of the gospel.

Gavin Ortlund helps in this difficult task, with his article “Repentance vs. Defensiveness”. Gavin begins by clarifying what defensiveness looks like.

•  A defensive heart says, “But look at what I did right!” (diversion)
•  A defensive heart says, “But look at what was done to me!” (distraction)
•  A defensive heart says, “It wasn’t that bad” (downplaying)

I will add, to Gavin’s list, that a defensive heart says, “I am not defensive, so this article doesn’t apply to me” (denial)

SHUT IT DOWN

gossip

Gossip

Sweet tidbits of intrigue and scandalous information – or at least unflattering descriptions.

Gossip, typically is welcome . . . unless it is about us.

THEN – – gossip quickly is recognized as a hurtful distortion of facts, or an unnecessary revealing of truths.

Be thoughtful about how gossip is a dagger when it features you or someone you love.

THEN – – realize that gossip always has a victim, and those who share it are holding the dagger.

Even when we are “only listening”, we are in effect giving our approval like the unconverted Saul holding the robes of those who stoned Stephen.

One reason we don’t take gossip more seriously (when we are not the victim), is that we are not fully convinced of how serious it is.

Look over these passages and notice the company of sins in which the Bible places gossip.

“They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are GOSSIPS, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil” (Romans 1:29-30)

“I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, GOSSIP, conceit, and disorder.” (2 Corinthians 12:20)

If gossip were a person, you would not want your children spending time in their company.

Erik Raymond shares helpful thoughts in this article “How to Shut Down Gossip”.

Let’s prayerfully use Erik’s article in two ways:

#1. Strengthen our convictions to Shut Down Gossip

#2. Equip ourselves in the best ways to Shut Down Gossip

As Erik says in his conclusion, “Let’s step our game up and, starting with ourselves, work to shut down gossip.”