by Pastor Tim Burt
Do you ever feel like the people in your day-to-day world aren’t hearing you, or really hearing your heart? When you feel like that, how do you get them to listen to you? How do you get them to hear what you’re saying? Especially, if to your frustration, they’ve demonstrated a poor propensity to do so? Do you yell? Do you shout? Do you exaggerate? Do you scream? Do you cry? Or do you go into a tirade? Do you throw something or pout and stomp out of the room? Most people who do such things have unfortunately developed immature, manipulative, and inappropriate forms of communication. It that’s you, I don’t fault you. Most of us have learned a portion of the forms of poor communication still working in us from the home or atmospheres we grew up in. For me, with nine siblings, it was often difficult to be heard. That’s not an excuse. It’s just how we got to ineffective communication. But we must change our ways.
In truth, the majority of all people at times reach a point of frustration of not being heard and resort to inappropriate communication styles. Communication skills are some of the most important in life to learn, and without God’s help, most people fail at them, over and over throughout their life.
One day while picking up a rental car I watched two young men use maybe the best communication skills I have ever seen demonstrated in public. A woman and her husband were returning a rental car. A young man working the counter was collecting the fee. She thought the fee was too high. He went through and explained every fee including the insurance coverage. She went into a rant. She began to yell that she did not ask for that coverage. He showed her calmly where she had signed her name to that coverage. It didn’t matter to her. She still said she didn’t ask for it. She talked loudly and rudely to this very kind young man. Every time she would say something, she would turn around and give this evil-looking smile to everyone else in line like it was some big joke or contest that she was winning. I honestly think the people wanted to have her arrested. The gentleman handling her continued to respond with an extreme calm and kindness. Then a young manager came in and saw what was happening. He said, Excuse me ma’am, but if you aren’t happy, let me take care of this for you. She was shouting and rude to him while looking around at everyone there and telling them she would never use their car company again. He calmly said, I am sure there was just some miscommunication and misunderstanding. I know it was busy that day and it would have been easy for either of us to make a mistake. I will be glad to take off that charge. I hope everything else was okay? She was still yelling at him, even though he resolved her issues. Both of the gentlemen continued to be as sweet as honey and finally she got it that they were helping her. He turned her around and she left happy. Did she deserve it? Not from any of the onlooker’s views. We thought throwing her in the back of a squad car would have been more appropriate. It wouldn’t surprise me if she acts this way everywhere she goes. Her husband did absolutely nothing to contain her. He was probably a victim of this ongoing behavior and abuse also.
After everyone left, I commended this man and his manager on their kindness and communication skills. They were off the charts. They stayed calm and their voices stayed kind and gentle throughout the process of her belittling each of them. I know I imagined pinning a medal on both of these two young men. I wrote the corporation and these two men for their magnificent efforts and the company for the training they put these two men through. I’ll never forget that incident!
God deals with us regularly through His still, small voice. He does not yell, throw a fit, throw rocks at us, or bring calamity upon us. He talks softly to our heart and through His Word. Sometimes He’ll speak to you through His Word. Sometimes through the pulpit in church. And sometimes God will use someone in your life to speak to your heart. But mostly He’ll speak to you through in a still small voice in your heart. The onus to be paying attention and listen is on you. And then the onus to respond appropriately is on you. God will be speaking in love—not through the poor communications styles people we see demonstrated daily. He won’t force you or make you do anything. Love is gentle and kind. It does not manipulate to get its own way. But, you will live with the choices you make good or bad!
In the Old Testament we read God dealing with Elijah, teaching him how to truly pay attention to God’s voice. 1 Kings 19:11-12 (NLT) “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire was a still small voice.”
That still small voice—not the other activity—was the voice was the Lord. That was what God was teaching and training Elijah to pay attention to.
Jesus, in teaching His disciples to learn to listen to God which meant listening to Him taught them that sheep listen to their shepherd! said, John 10:4-5 (NIV) “…his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a
stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a
stranger’s voice.” That stranger is the voice outside of God’s character—the voice of accusation and condemnation, the voice of manipulation, lies and deceit, and the voice of discouragement—Satan’s voice.
Jesus then taught them, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…” (John 10:27) God, like a loving parent, is teaching, correcting, instructing, and encouraging us all the time IF we will listen from within. He’ll impress upon our hearts right words and actions to say and do. He will not teach us manipulative shortcuts of yelling, lying, deceit, or intimidation to get our own way. His voice will teach us to communicate from a heart of love, kindness, gentleness and preferring others. As we read His word, these are His ways that we’ll be instructed in. The book of James and Proverbs give much wisdom on appropriate communication so it’s critical to learn from them. James 1:19 (NIV) teaches us, “… take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” If you’ll learn to listen to that still small voice inside, you’ll hear Him remind you of these words again and again. And that is how you will re-learn to communicate appropriately! We just have to practice listening and responding to those impressions upon our heart from the Lord.
When you learn to communicate appropriately, you will find that people will listen to you more. Does this mean a life-change in how you communicate is necessary? Absolutely! Will it take work and time? Absolutely! But the benefits that result will last and bless you throughout the rest of your life! It all starts with God speaking to you through His Word and in your heart. Are you listening? Can you hear His still small voice now?
Proverbs 15:31 (NLT) “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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