Once we have given our due diligence to skillful listening we enter the arena of communicating grace.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Grace is one of the most important words in the Bible and can be easily defined as,
“The divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life.”
Grace is God’s influence, not necessarily ours. Keeping in mind that God’s influence, should be palpable in our speech will keep us humble, gentle, and conscious of what is being imparted in our conversations.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
The word corrupt in the previous passage simply means, “Worthless and of no value.” If our words are not ministering grace to the hearer it shouldn’t be coming out of our mouths. We should constantly be judging our words before we speak, asking ourselves, “Is this going to edify, help, and bless? Am I truly speaking from the Lord’s perspective, or just mine? Is my tone right, are my motives pure?
As leaders, we must understand that God uses us as a mouthpiece to speak to others. God does not take this lightly and neither should we. The Bible is replete with scriptures about the power and significance of words and the effect they have on our lives. What we say and how we say it can literally be ministering death or life into a person’s life or situation.
Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
This reinforces the importance of being a skilled listener, but even more so, the importance of our own intimate relationship with God. Our spiritual condition has a profound effect on our ability to communicate the heart of God.
Love is the license to speak truth
An area I see young leaders often miss it is in their delivery of truth. Truth is received in the manner it is delivered. The Word of God is truth. It is also a sword, a double edged one at that. Truth should never be delivered with the intention of “straightening someone out,” or “correcting someone.” Let me explain:
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Many times this scripture is used to justify the Bible bashing, finger pointing, and judgmental approach to correcting people in the name of God. Usually it is a self-centered, self-righteous assault on people that comes from not understanding their identity in Christ and opens one up to the influence of religious spirits.
Notice that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God.” God is love according to 1 John 4:8. So we can conclude that if the delivery of truth isn’t inspired by Love it is NOT profitable for doctrine, it will NOT reprove, it will NOT correct, it will NOT instruct, it will NOT complete, and it will NOT equip. It just cuts, and it cuts deep. Love is the license to speak truth. If we don’t have genuine love and compassion in our hearts toward the ones we are speaking to, we have lost our license to speak on God’s behalf.
Let’s say you love a perfectly cooked rib-eye steak. It may be your favorite food in the world, but if I serve it to you wrapped in a dirty diaper you aren’t going to eat it. It’s the same with delivering truth. The word of God is so powerful it can change a life but it must be palatable, seasoned with salt, full of grace, and delivered in sincere love for it to be received.
If we are not imparting God’s grace, communicating God’s heart, and being a vessel of God’s love, we should remain silent. If we can’t correct that on the spot we may need to stop and reschedule a time to finish the conversation giving us time to pray or seek council from another leader. Don’t be pressured into speaking when you know your heart isn’t right.
There is a simple rule that will keep us from a myriad of problems if we apply it.
“When we speak, be sure it’s an improvement on silence.”
Following this rule does a few things,
- It slows down the conversation and keeps us mindful of the power and purpose of our words.
- It diffuses conflict that arises from elevated emotions.
- It teaches us the value and power of silence.
- It gives us greater control over ourselves and the entire situation.
- It allows us time to hear from our heart what the Holy Spirit is saying in the situation.
Personally, I believe this is what was happening in John 8:1-11 when Jesus was writing in the sand with His finger while everyone pressed Him for an answer to judge the woman caught in adultery. I think Jesus was simply giving His heart time to tell His mouth what to say.
Not being willing to speak until He heard from the Father is a lesson that every leader should take to heart. There are few worse feelings than knowing we have hurt one of God’s children with our words.
As leaders, we think before we speak, selecting words that nurture and build up rather than tear down and destroy. When faced with hostility we speak gently so as to diffuse anger and emotions rather than feed them. When faced with uncertainty, we are slow to speak, letting silence speak to the person and God speak us.
“Godly communication isn’t merely a skill, it is a discipline.”
Question: What is the definition of grace as it pertains to communication?
Question: What defines a “corrupt” word as stated in Ephesians 4:29?
Question: What are 3 things to keep in mind before we speak?
Question: Before we speak, what should our words be an improvement on?
Question: What license must you have before you can speak on God’s behalf?