Your actions and your words are helping your children learn skills to deal with the circumstances they will face in their lives. Likewise, they are watching you live out your own faith and beliefs in your marriage. They are watching you walk your talk. This is why a healthy marriage is so important to your child’s faith development. Your marriage can be leveraged to teach them how to put into practice the applications of scripture. Today let’s talk communication.
We Communicate Constantly
Whether vocally or with body language, as long as there is someone else in the room to interact with us, we communicate! Even in silence, others are making assumptions about our thoughts and feelings based on what they observe. Hey, I even talk to myself, so I don’t need someone in the room to listen! I guess I’m a max communicator!
Sloppy Communication Habits
Many of us have picked up some sloppy communication habits. I’m talking about the habitual eye roll or the sloppy reply “whatever.” There are also what I would categorize as bad communication habits. This might come in the form of sarcasm, avoidance, and even yelling. If we are honest, none of us like to be on the receiving end of these types of sloppy or bad communication habits. And if you grew up in a setting where these things were practiced, you are probably communicating this way without even really thinking about it. It’s your communication norm.
Lasting relationships depend upon good communication skills. And since we are in our marriages for the long haul, it benefits us to learn how to communicate in a healthy and loving way, even when we need to address hard things. So, how do we begin to do that? The first step is to consider what the Bible says about communication.
Let’s take a look at what the Bible teaches us about communication, our attitude towards communication and the power of our words.
Listening is Key
Proverbs 18:13 – To answer before listening. is foolish and shameful.
James 1:19 – My dear brothers and sisters, pay attention to what I say. Everyone should be quick to listen. But they should be slow to speak. They should be slow to get angry.
Listening is a skill that requires great patience and self-control. Even in pleasant conversation, I have often caught myself planning what I’ll say next, all while the other person is still speaking! That’s not listening! In fact, I often miss most of what is being said. And this amounts to a very selfish practice in communication. I have found that when I take the time to listen, I often have follow-up questions that help steer our conversation toward a more meaningful exchange.
If we listen and are therefore totally engaged in what the other person is saying, we have a much better chance of interacting with that person in a way that makes them feel honored and loved. That’s the power of listening. In a more emotional exchange, this type of listening is a gift to your partner. They feel heard, understood and affirmed. I avoid jumping to emotional conclusions and getting my anger riled up. And that kind of communication is wise communication.
Words Bring Healing
Proverbs 12:18 – The words of thoughtless people cut like swords. But the tongue of wise people brings healing.
It’s amazing to realize that our words can either be lethal weapons or instruments of healing. We usually don’t think of our words that way. So many times, we simply vomit our thoughts and feelings before we take the time to think through how they will be received. This little verse reminds us that healthy communication is thoughtful and kind communication. When was the last time you paused long enough to think about what you would say. When was the last time you considered how to package your thoughts into phrases that would bring the gift of healing? Our words often last far longer than any material gift we might give to another person. Your husband might not remember the tie you gave him for Father’s Day, but he will remember the healing words you thoughtfully offered when he was at a low point.
Use Words to Please God
Psalm 19:14 – Lord, may these words of my mouth please you. And may these thoughts of my heart please you also. You are my Rock and my Redeemer.
The secret to healthy communication is understanding that our words either please God or displease Him. That’s sobering. Once our words are unleashed, they can’t be taken back. If we begin communicating with the intent to please God, we have a better chance of communicating effectively and lovingly.
God is the Best Listener
So, what do communication habits teach our children about communicating with God? Our habits with humans are likely to transfer to our habits with God. Are our patterns selfish? Then perhaps our prayers are selfish, too. Do we take the time to listen? Maybe we are not listening to God, either. We do have one thing working in our favor, God is a perfect communicator!
So often we feel like no one is listening. Your kids know this feeling, too! Why not emphasize listening in your family? And while you’re doing that, teach your children that God is the very best listener. He will always listen! Psalm 77:1 says, “My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud; My voice rises to God, and He will listen to me.” God hears us when no one else does. So often in scripture we see people crying out to God and talking to Him about their feelings, even feelings of hurt, anger and frustration. God can handle all of these and He won’t walk away.
God Wants Us to Hear
Practically speaking prayer is all about talking to God and listening to God. It’s a two-way street. So often, we just want to talk and then walk away. That’s not a conversation though, is it? In Psalm 81:12-13 we learn that God wants us to listen to Him as well! “But My people did not listen to My voice, And Israel did not obey Me. So, I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk by their own plans. Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!” God listens to us and we should listen to Him, too! God is much wiser than we will ever be, listening to God and then obeying His will keeps us on a steady path in life. And God will never steer us wrong. So how do you listen to God? You start by reading and understanding what He has said in the Bible. These are God’s words to us. And His words will come to our memory when we need them the most if we have invested in getting to know God through His Word.
Good communication skills will help build solid relationships in marriage and with our Lord. Listen up, and start practicing today!