Unity Through Communication

How can you nurture good communication that leads to unity instead of strife? Matthew 7:1 tells us one of the most important keys: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” A very kind and considerate pastor friend of ours once told us two important keys he has learned to communication: 1. Never assume anything about anyone, and 2. always choose to believe the best about everyone. He commented that even if he sees a friend or acquaintance and they don’t acknowledge him, he will not allow himself to think that they might be upset with him or acting rude. Instead he thinks, “They must be extremely busy to have not said hello.” Next he will pray that God will meet their needs for whatever caused them to be so preoccupied, rather than allowing thoughts of judgment towards them. He then chooses not to think about it again.
 
I find that with parenting or even work relationships, if one of our kids or co-workers seems not quite themselves, there is almost always a deeper reason for it. If we just politely press in and ask questions, they will open up about what’s really bothering them. I once heard a business leader say that he was baffled as to why one of his long-time employees was acting so irritable and forgetful at work. He finally called her into his office and asked her how she was doing. When she said, “fine,” he pressed in: “Well you don’t seem fine. Is your family okay?” She then burst into tears, revealing that her mom who lived five hours away had been diagnosed with cancer, and she had no time off left to help her through the treatments. He told her that their company believed in treating others the way they would want to be treated. He would get special clearance for her to get as much paid time off as she needed. It would have been easy to just judge her poor behavior, but this wise employer chose to press in and find a reason.
 
His example illustrates an important truth. Some people have difficulty communicating with others because they judge others’ intentions incorrectly. If a person chooses to “read in” to others’ actions and become offended, someone will probably “return the favor” fairly soon. This can happens back and forth in a marriage repeatedly, and it creates havoc. It’s wise to assume positive intent whenever there is room for an opinion. Then others are more likely to give us the same courtesy and mercy in return. Praying for others rather than assuming we know what they are thinking goes much further to build strong relationships with positive communication.
 
Another great communication key is asking rather than telling. In Matthew 7:7 Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you…” If we are to give God the courtesy of asking Him for something instead of telling Him to give it to us, shouldn’t we give similar respect to our spouse, children, and friends? When people feel others owe them something, they tell them to do things. We should never have the attitude that anyone owes us anything. Strong relationships are built and continue to grow through respect, honor, and kind words.
 
While a person can probably get away with telling others in some work situations, it’s still not the kind thing to do. Your spouse is not your servant (although we should eagerly serve each other out of love); rather, they are your companion. When orders are given in a marriage, it quickly turns the relationship from one of love and companionship to one of a master and servant. Most people wouldn’t enjoy a marriage like that!
 
Even with our children, it’s wise to ask them to do things rather than tell them, in order to train them in how to be polite to others. Simple things like asking them to please pass something at the table or asking if they would please pick up their room or do their homework go a long way in training them how to treat friends and their future spouse someday. Polite and respectful people get more opportunities in life and, therefore, are more prepared for success.
 
Jesus’ said it best in Luke 6:31, “Just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”  When we sow seeds of love and respect with our words and actions, over time we will reap a harvest of healthy relationships and blessed communication!
 
With love, 
Pastors Shaun & Amy