The One Skill We All Need
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. John 15:9-10
In spite of the fact that he lived with an unhappy marriage himself, the English author Charles Dickens understood the importance of communication. He wrote, "Never close your lips to him to whom you have opened your heart!" Dickens realized that communication is the key to real love, but is that the only reason to learn communication skills? Not at all.
First--verbal communication skills are absolutely necessary if you are to succeed in your career or business. No individual can really rise to the top who cannot express himself or herself, letting others know what you think and feel. Facts are important, but expressing feelings is vital if your ideas are to inflame the minds of other people. That's why corporations spend large sums of money annually, training their leaders to communicate.
The second reason you need to know how to communicate verbally is to share your faith. Jesus never told His disciples to build churches. Though Christians have established more hospitals and schools than all the rest of the world put together, Jesus never really included this specific mission in His challenge to those who followed Him. But he did say, "Go...make disciples!" He said, "...you will be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8). A witness is one who says, "This is what I saw," and that requires verbal expression.
I am amazed at times how some individuals can express themselves about almost anything except their faith, and when it comes to verbalizing their faith, they get laryngitis in 24 languages. Think about it.
The third reason that you need to know how to communicate is selfish but fundamental: If your needs are to be met in marriage, you can't expect your mate to read your mind; you've got to learn to express yourself. Too often, people fall into the trap of thinking, "If you really loved me, you would know what I need." It just doesn't work.
Have you ever seen the message or slogan on a T-shirt which reads, "To know me is to love me"? The fact is that it isn't true. There are times when you get to know someone that you don't even like the person, let alone love that person.
But I can tell you one thing for sure. You will never really love someone unless you can get to know that person, and you will never get to know the person unless you can communicate with that person. That's why communication comes before love and, like the bellows that keeps a fire alive, communication keeps love alive in marriage.
How do we communicate? Do we just let fly with whatever comes to our mind? Effective communication is the mutual expression of ideas, thoughts, information, and feelings. The key word ismutual. That means you initiate the process and the other person responds. It's something like tennis. The person who begins the process has the responsibility of putting the ball (verbally speaking) in the service court of the opponent. In tennis, the person serving can smash the ball with a wicked serve which goes far astray, but the person on the other side of the net isn't obligated to attempt to return the ball. Only those balls served within the boundaries of the service court get attention. Likewise, how you initiate the whole process of communication has a great deal to do with its success or failure.
Some marriages succeed without much communication, but how much healthier and exciting would be those relationships when we learn to express what we think and feel. Communication isn't really a matter of life and death; it may well be even more important than that. It's a fact.
Resource reading: John 14:5-14