The podcast this week at the end of this article answers the question: “Is the Bible really an expression of God’s heart?”
The boss storms into the office, a scowl plastered firmly on his face.
“Good morning Mister Blister,” his secretary chirps. “Good morning!” he shouts. “Today, I want you to work on the Smith account!” he continues, his angry voice rattling the cups next to the coffee maker as he stomps into his inner office.
“Yes sir,” his gray-haired secretary giggles.
Later that morning his secretary tip toes into his workplace to find him on the phone with a client. “It costs $3,000! What do you want me to do? Make an exception for you?” he says in a challenging tone. There’s a brief pause then, “If you want our product you’ll pay our price. Goodbye!” he slams the phone down.
“What do you want now?” “Ah, Mister Blister,” the smiling lady says. “These papers need your immediate attention.” “Leave them on the desk, I’ll get to them when I get to them!” “Yes sir,” she sings and floats airily out of the small office.
“Wait, wait, wait!” you exclaim. “What is this? The nuthouse?”
That’s not all. Listen to the boss communicate later that day with his wife: “What have you been doing all day long? This house is a mess!” And his dog: “Out of my way!” (kick!) “Why are you always underfoot?”
And take a peek at the secretary as she speaks to a client later that day, “Oh, you can’t pay the $10,000 you owe us? That’s okay. You just hang in there. If it’s today, next year or ten years from now, you’ll get there.” And to a fellow who was stealing her car, “You know you shouldn’t do that,” she chides gently. “But I do hope it serves you as well as it has me.”
By now you think that both of them need counseling—and you’re right.
We need to adjust our way of communicating to the situation. Sometimes form is as important as content. You don’t scream at friendly secretaries and clients. You don’t cajole thieves politely.
Paul understood this. He knew the Corinthian church well and when they needed it, he scorched them. “But for right now, friends, I’m completely frustrated by your unspiritual dealings with each other and with God. You’re acting like infants in relation to Christ, capable of nothing much more than nursing at the breast …” (1 Cor. 3:1) Paul could speak frankly with them because of the years he had lived with them. They knew each other well and they knew Paul loved them.
He didn’t live that long with the Galatians but they were in danger of losing everything they had with God, so he practically shouted at them: “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (Gal. 3:1)
One the other hand, the Thessalonians faced a searing trial of persecution. Paul had lived there only a few weeks and had been chased out by the persecutors. The tone of voice he used with the Thessalonians was completely different.
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” (1 Thessa. 1:8)
Tone, timing, volume, and expression communicate as well as content.
A friend one shared a “conversation” he had with his dog. It went something like this. With a big smile he says, “You are the stupidiest thing that ever walked on four feet.” The dog wags his tail and pants happily. Then he puts an angry expression on his face and growls, “You are the most wonderful animal I ever saw.” The dog cowers in fear.
Like Paul, we need to make sure that we use the right style of communication to relay our message. We shouldn’t use a bazooka to kill a mosquito, neither should we try to down a rhinoceros with a bb gun. Our way of communicating often says as much as our words. Moms and dads need to remember that when they correct their children. Couples need to remember that when they disagree. Friends in the Lord need to remember that when they don’t see things the same way. Leaders need to remember that when correcting others.
AND DON’T YOU FORGET IT EITHER!!!
Okay??? (little bitty voice)