A friend shared the link to this blog post (http://thelasthiker.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/the-son-of-god-movie-is-not-what-we-think-do-you-know-the-voice-of-your-master/) and I decided to browse it. I have never read this person’s blog – and based on this entry, I probably won’t again. Along with it being rather lengthy (which, in my humble opinion, a blog should be easily read in minutes), the entire tone of her communication is rather angry, at times sarcastic (without being funny), and somewhat self-righteous. Her article is written to provide factually accurate information to make her case – but I was left not really caring what her case was. Her outrage was all I could hear.
As part of my attendance at LeadSpeak, a speakers’ workshop and seminar presented by Dr. John P. Kelly, I prepared a short lesson on what I learned about communication from Jesus and His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-32). This story offers some significant keys to effective, charismatic communication – keys I felt were missing from this well-intended blog post:
One of the first keys I get from this story is that HOW you say something can be even more important than what you say. When Jesus says to the woman (paraphrasing), “You are telling the truth when you say you don’t have a husband. In fact, you have had 5 and the man you are living with is not your husband,” the woman does not communicate back anger, or offense (reading words alone, that’s the response I would expect her to have). She may have been shocked that this stranger knew this – but what kept her from running away must have been the things we don’t read about – the tone of His voice and the look in His eye. There was love, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance of her as someone priceless (and worth dying for.) I believe you can communicate challenging, difficult truth when you choose to do it the right way.
The next point I learned is WHEN you communicate has a huge impact on how it will be received. I don’t think the timing of the woman’s visit to the well, the only moments Jesus was alone, is accidental. Jesus knew they had a divine appointment – but her life circumstance was one that many of his companions could not look past. For her, a group of Jewish men would have been intimidating at best. Her walls of defense would go up, leaving little chance that His message for her would be received. I believe you can communicate life changing truth when you time it right, so that there are no distractions, no negativity, and the person is in a position to listen and receive it.
The final thing I want to point out is that WHO you are/were takes a back seat when you communicate with PASSION. No matter what your past may be, others will want to be a part of the passion they hear in your message. You see, Jesus isn’t the one that started collecting the crowd to hear His message in Samaria. The woman did. It is likely that everyone knew her background and she was shunned by many. But this same woman ran to the leaders of the city, the ones most likely to turn her away, and communicated so passionately that they were compelled to come see this man that she was talking about. Verse 39 even goes further, stating many in Samaria believed in Jesus BECAUSE of her personal story to them, her “testimony,” and not because they saw and heard Him personally. I believe anyone, regardless of their past, can communicate with passion and find others who want to follow.
The goal of communication should be to be clearly heard and understood, and to clearly hear and understand in return. I know many who are great talkers, but terrible communicators. They fail to listen, and because of that, it is hard to hear what they have to say. The person who wrote the blog post cited above may be right. But will her message be heard? And who will listen?Only those who communicate and respond through anger and divisiveness? Is that who she wants to reach? Perhaps. But if her desire was to enlighten, encourage dialog, or help others see the error in their thinking, I think the approach she chose will simply do the opposite. And I don’t know that Jesus would have communicated this information in quite the same way…