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“ALLOW ME TO COMMUNICATE” – June 2

June 2, 2013

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.”  1 Corinthians 2:1

Some of the contestants in the Scripps Nationa...

Some of the contestants in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a new spelling bee champion just crowned.  The new champion is Arvind Mahankali, a 13 year old from New York City.  He won the competition by spelling “knaidel”, which is a German-derived Yiddish word for a matzo ball.  I am annually amazed at the words that get spelled at the Scripps National Spelling Bee that I did not know even existed.

We all have vast list of words that we can choose from in our communication.  I am surprised by the number of times I listen to a speech and wonder what in the world they are talking about.  The speaker will throw in words that are so unfamiliar that I am lost in his terminology.  The result of his word selection has been for me to not fully understand what he was attempting to communicate

Whose fault is the failure to communicate; the listener or the speaker?

It is the communicator’s job to communicate.  If that person fails to explain their ideas in an understandable manner, then they have not done an adequate job in selecting their words.  The process of word selection is not to impress your listeners with your vocabulary.  We should select our words in order to present our ideas in the most interesting, stimulating, and understandable manner.

Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

The use of a vocabulary that alienates the listener is rude. 

It may be due to the speaker not even thinking about his audience.  It may be due to a desire to appear intelligent.  We all can get caught up in using words that are very familiar to our profession or expertise but are not universally understood.  I was instructed when I began my engineering career on how to speak in front of our clients.

My job is to communicate engineering principles and recommendations in an understandable manner so that our client can make an informed decision.  It is easy for me to talk over their heads.  I can use words and terminology that are not familiar to them.  I can talk in a way that will make me appear very intelligent.  I can communicate in a manner that frustrates or makes them feel dumb.

However, I will not have done a very good job communicating to my client.  They are not paying me to make a performance of my intelligence.  They are not paying me to make them feel dumb.  They are paying me to help them understand.  Therefore, I will choose my words based on my audience.  I will select words from my vocabulary that will be most effective in helping them understand.

I wonder how much of the rhetorical techniques used within our religious circles have more to do with appearances than actual communication.  I listen to some Christian speakers and wonder at their word selection.  It seems to me that much of the terminology that gets bantered comes from a desire to fit into philosophy departments than with real communication within Church. We should be constantly thinking about our audience as we communicate.  We cannot expect a person with limited or no Church background to understand our strange terminology.  We should care enough about them to select words that are an aid to understanding and not a stumbling block.

Our goal should be to make known Jesus Christ and Him crucified throughout this world.

There are enough stumbling blocks to faith.  May the words we select not be among those stumbling blocks.

PRAYER: Lord, I know that there are so many stumbling blocks in this world.  Forgive me for those times when I have not been gracious enough to select my words carefully.  Forgive me for selecting words that build me up but do not help others understand.  Lord, may your Spirit work past all of my failures to communicate.  Thank you for not relying upon me to pick the perfect word.  Help me to be more conscience of what comes out of my mouth.  Give me a compassion for others that leads me to think about the words that I use.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

7 comments

  1. I always wondered about my use of simple terms, especially when I hear so many religious leaders consistently using lovely sounding, complicated words to communicate simple ideas. I like to think that when I speak the least educated person in the room should be able to understand what I’m saying.Thank you so much for this post it really is an encouragement to me.


  2. Yes! Sharing Him with others. May it be our “first” language!


  3. Worthy thoughts. For me, there is something valuable in stretching minds a bit with vocabulary, but there are also many times (and communicating the story of Jesus to a newbie or unbeliever is one of them) when it’s probably better simply to be simple. I continue to be saddened by the number of KJV Bibles I see in churches and hear quotations from. And why on earth, for instance, do the Gideons — those sincere old “fools for Christ” — insist on perpetuating the communicational barrier by giving away KJVs instead of NCVs or NIVs or even The Messages?

    Recently talked w/an old friend who now steers clear of leading songs with old language. Although I appreciate his intent, I don’t think that choice is completely necessary — singing implies a poetic situation, and literate, thoughtful people will typically appreciate decent poetry if it’s not needlessly obtuse.

    The implication in Kathie’s quotation (above) suggests a good principle: strive to know how to communicate in each distinct situation.


  4. Wow convicting. I need to make a better job of communicating on our blog in simpler terms


  5. As a counselor (as well as wife, mother, neighbor and friend), I am painfully aware of the importance of choosing words that communicate the love and mercy of Christ. The Apostle Paul said it well, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6) Thank you for this timely reminder!


  6. Great post!


  7. God hears your heart’s prayer, JD.



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