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Pastor's Corner
The Design of the Family

I love going to the movies. I like watching those movies where boy meets girl, boy pursues girl, boy gains girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back and- you guessed it- they live happy ever after. I love those kinds of movies because that really is a fantasy. No ones lives happy ever after; they live happy even after. They live happy even after the misunderstandings, the financial struggles, the conflicts, the sexual struggles or even the adultery. Couples learn to live happy even after the challenges of marriage. What about you? Are you learning to live happy even after or are you waiting on the fantasy. Are you waiting for things to happen or are you ready to work on making things happen. Dr. Ivory Varner would say to us “We are not here to report on what happened we are here to make it happen.” If you are going to have a marriage whereby you are happy even after, you are going to have to work on it and at it. Happy even after will come because you find your happiness in obedience to God’s design instead of trying to fulfill your desires in your spouse. God did not design marriage and family for your personal agenda. God designed marriage and family to bring glory to Himself and to lead you, your spouse and family into holiness.


Have you considered God’s design and intention for a family? Do you know what is expected of you and your spouse? As you look at God’s will and are willing to walk in His will, you can expect His results for your marriage and family. Until you truly evaluate your spouse according to the Biblical definition and design of a family, you really cannot determine if you have a good marriage as God would define it. God designed marriage and family with His purpose in mind. If your spouse fits your purpose but does not align with God’s design for marriage and family, you are in a bad position. You will need to reevaluate your priorities and adjust them to God’s will accordingly. Nothing will work well if it does not function as God designed. Since God created all things, He knows how all things should function. To function any other way brings confusion, chaos and destruction. You may say to yourself, “It’s been working fine up to this point!” My response would be, “According to whose definition and design?” You need to be careful about how you evaluate situations. Just because something appears good to you does not mean that it is good for you. God is a patience God who will give you time to repent. But if you refuse, He will allow you to suffer the consequences of your choices (Gal 6:7-8). Why do you think there are so many divorces? I am sure according to their definition, the relationship was working. But when you look at God’s design for marriage and family, it was not even close! Don’t be that person that is so blinded by his own ambition that he does not see God’s will. You and your spouse need to look at what God says and take a look at what you are doing. God’s family done God’s way will receive God’s blessing. Let’s take a look at the premise, priority, and picture of a family as God intended.


There are four things you must consider when you look at the premise of a family as God intended. First, A family is to consist of a man and woman in marriage under God as long as they both shall live (Gn 2:18-25). God did not sanction Adam and Steve or Eve and Evetta. God designed a family to consist of man and woman who were born as man and woman. This was to be a life long union.


Second, this man and woman are to live together as Husband and Wife with children who are related by birth or adoption through mother/father relationship or through parentage in a biblical marriage to each other. This family is to be managed by the Father/Husband to glorify God in all aspects of life (See Genesis 1:26-31, 2:18, 21-25, 18:19). God developed a structure for marriage where the Husband is the head; the wife is the support, and the children are developed according to the Husband and wife team. This is a not a tradition, but a truth that God expects us to live by. When I look at relationships on TV and in our culture, there seems to be a break from the roles that God developed. There is an attack on the biblical design for marriage. People are redefining marriage according to their subjective ideals. As a result families are breaking up in major proportions. When we abandon the truth, we are left to our own devices, which lead to our own destruction (Prv 14:12).


Third, God designed the family to provide companionship, nurture, discipline, and training in righteousness in order that all would live a life pleasing to God and beneficial to society (Eph 5:22-6:4). God intended the family to be the training ground for living. It is intended to be the place where you learn who God is and how to function as God wants you to function.


 As I counsel I find families far from being a training ground for knowing God. It is more like a war zone where God is not even mentioned. Think about both of your family backgrounds. Was God the center?   What I hear most often is, “I was raised in the church or I have been in the church all my life.” Going to church or being in church does not make you a Christian. That’s like saying, “I have been going to a mechanic shop all my life, therefore, I am a mechanic.” I don’t think so. Church attendance does not make you a Christian—accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior does.  Do you live for Christ or for yourself?   Is your character and service reflecting Jesus Christ? Does your spouse live for Christ? Does his or her character reflect Christ or self. These issues have much to do with the family you were brought up in.

 Fourth, the family was intended to be the way God reflected the nature of His relationship with His people. It is through the Husband-Wife relationship that you should see how God relates to His Church. It is through the Parent-Child relationship you should see how God relates to His people in general (Eph 5:22-32, 2Cor 6:16-18). It is through your family that God intended to show Himself to the world. If people were to look at your relationship with your spouse right now, would they see Satan or the Son of God? When you look at your family of origin does it reflect the nature of God or the nature of the Devil?   The premise for a family is reflected in these four principles. When you think about your family, do you have these things in mind?   Knowing God’s will helps you to adjust your thinking to His will. Now take a look at your mate and consider him or her in connection with the premise of the family God intended.

                       
Now that we have looked at the premise of a family as God designed, we must consider the priority of the family. The family is the foundation for every other institution. The Church, the neighborhood, and our society all exist because of families. The entire social structure owes its existence to the family. Think about it. What institution could function without the family?

Second, we must consider that the family was the only entity on earth commanded to be fruitful and multiply (Gn 1:28). This was not commanded to institutions or to governments; it was commanded to the family. Families are the lifeline of our society. Everyone that exists comes from a family. This explains why distortions and deficiencies in our families will produce distortions and deficiencies in every other human institution. For instance, the educational system is being negatively impacted by poor family dynamics. As families are falling away from God’s design, schools are having a difficult time teaching children. They are trying to do what God designed the family to do. The government is seeking to take care of children that were to be taken care of by the family. This results in financial challenges for government and society.

 Do you realize that your family had a major impact on the person you are today?   Your family did not make you who you are, but they did have an impact on who you are. You have learned to respond either positively or negatively to the experiences in your family. You tend to compare all other experiences to what happened to you in your family. You may find yourself trying to escape from the experiences of your family or trying to create the experiences of your family. Either way you have been influenced by your family in a major way. This has an impact on a marriage relationship. This is why an evaluation of God’s design for a family in connection to the kind of family you and your spouse have had and the family you are seeking to have is very important.

 Even though sin has corrupted mankind, God still has a picture of how He wants a family to function, and He will give you the power to function according to His picture. If families function as God designed, they can expect God’s blessing as a result. The family is:

  • To be a place of companionship where a husband and wife work together to accomplish God’s will resulting in living out a covenant marriage before God and others (Gn 2:18-25).
  • To be a place where the husband is a servant leader to the wife and family in all aspects of the family (Eph 5:22-6:4).
  • To be a place where the wife supports her husband and family in all aspects of the family (Prv 31:10-31).
  • To be place where children are born and valued (Ps 127:3-5).
  • To be a place where the will of God is taught and lived out from generation to generation, resulting in Christian character, conduct, and conversation being developed accordingly (Dt 4:1-9, Lk 6:40-45, Ti 2:1-5).
  • To be a place where children are taught to obey and respect God and all other authority, through discipline and instruction from the Word of God (Eph 6:4).
  • To be a place where mothers and fathers are honored through the wisdom of their children (Prv 10:1).
  • To be a place where people are an asset and not a liability to each other resulting in bearing each other’s burdens and meeting the needs of one another (Ps128:1-6, Rom 12:9-21)
  • To be a place where people live by the commandments of God from the heart and not allow the traditions of the culture or other family members to hinder their obedience resulting in the fruit of God being produced by all (Jam 3:13-18, John 15:1-8).

 

This picture of God’s will for marriage and family is possible through the power of God. This picture should be what you strive for in your marriage and family.   Now that you have looked at God’s definition and design for a family, you must evaluate your own definition and design for a family. Do you have in mind what God had in mind? Does your spouse have in mind what God had in mind? The two of you must decide if you will do it God’s way or seek to do it your way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Resolving Conflict

Resolving Conflict

 

     Conflict can be described as a state of war, individual disputes, or battles between people, which manifest itself in attitudes, words, and actions.   Perhaps you have found it difficult to handle others because of conflict in the relationship. Have you considered the issues that cause the conflict?

    Actually, there are four key issues that tend to lead us into conflict. One of the main issues is differing personal preferences. For instance, you may like the toilet seat up, but your spouse may like it down. You may like to drive with the windows down, but your friend may like to drive with them up. You may like it cold in the house, yet your spouse may like it warm in the house. You may like to take risk where your friend may like to play it safe. These are personal preferences. A personal preference is neither right nor wrong. Therefore, if you like something a certain way, and others like something a different way neither is wrong or right. It is a matter of choice. What tends to happen is that one person believes their personal preference is a biblical precept resulting in believing they are right, and the other person is wrong—as a result conflict ensues! Take cooking for example. Perhaps you have learned a certain way to cook chicken that has been a tradition in your family for years. What happens if your friend cooks chicken a different way? Is that person wrong, or has he or she just followed a different personal preference. If you believe that person is wrong, you have just turned a personal preference into a biblical precept resulting in challenging the person about something that you believe is wrong when in essence it is a matter of choice. It is not the way commanded by a biblical precept, but is a way that you are free to choose. This type of thinking leads to many conflicts. People fight over personal preferences because they believe their way is the way. When I see issues such as these in counseling, I will ask, “Which one of you is right?” This tends to open a can of worms. As I calm them down, I seek to show them that it is not a matter of right or wrong because the issues are a matter of personal preferences. It is rather a matter of two people being wrong in their attitude and approach on the matter. Each needs to consider that they both are okay in their personal preferences but not in the way they are handling each other. One may need to yield to the personal preferences of the other showing consideration. Or, they may both need to consider a new preference that they develop together. If each person were considering the other accordingly, the issue would not have to lead to conflict.


     Another issue that leads to conflict is a preoccupation with personal agendas. When there is selfish ambition in your relationship with others, you will find confusion, disorder, and every evil thing. Conflict arises when people are focused on what they want from the other instead of what they can give to each other. Sometimes we treat people as avenues to our satisfactions instead of as investments to the Kingdom of God. When this happens conflict is inevitable. There was a woman who spent much of her time praying for her husband to change. Much to her disappointment her prayers where denied. As we spent time together, I asked her what she prayed for and why. She began to tell me that she was praying for her husband to be a mature Christian so that she could have the love, affection, and attention she treasured. As we talked more, I was able to help her to see that the fights with her husband and the denied prayer request where due to her preoccupation with her personal agenda. Her husband was an avenue to her love, affection, and attention. She was not so much concerned with his well being as she was with his ability to provide her what she wanted. As a result there are many conflicts in her life.


     Another issue that could lead to conflict is not having legitimate needs met. I tend to see needs in three categories: Social, Spiritual, and Physical. Social needs would be things such as employment or housing. Spiritual needs would be things such as forgiveness of sin, discipleship, or direction in the will and ways of God. Physical needs would be things such as food and clothing. When someone is responsible for providing these things and does not follow through, the other can respond in ways that create conflict. For example, imagine if you were responsible for feeding two sets of people, and in the process one set of people was being over looked while the other set of people was being taking care of. What do you think would happen?   You’re absolutely right: Conflict between the two sets of people. This is exactly what happened in the book of Acts leading to the establishing of the first set of Deacons. Legitimate needs were unmet resulting in conflict between people.


     Another key issue that leads to conflict is having flagrant, sinful attitudes and actions. When you find yourself cranky, rude, stubborn, sarcastic, prideful, or even disrespectful on a consistent basis, you will find yourself in conflict. As a teacher I run into a lot of students who, because they refuse to address their sinful attitudes and actions, have conflicts with other students. I have had to be mediator to many disputes. When we discovered core issue, we found a lot of sinful attitudes and actions not being dealt with accordingly. If these issues are not dealt with properly, we will find ourselves confronting others in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons, leading to more conflict.


     I do not know many people who like to confront others. I know fewer people who want to be confronted. Most confrontation is not done in the right way or for the right reasons. Most confrontation is done out of selfish ambition (Jam 3:13-16). When you are consumed with your own desires, you confront others according to those desires thereby creating conflict. When there are major issues between others, usually they have not confronted each other in the right way or for the right motives. Let me suggest to you four selfish reasons that tend to lead you to confront others in your life.

     Ever wanted someone to agree with your opinion or do things a certain way? How did you deal with it? Did you confront them? How did that turn out? When you confront others in order for them to agree with your opinion or to do things according to your preference, it will inevitably lead to conflict. The confrontation is done out of selfishness.

     Have you ever been in a situation where you thought you know something about somone, and confronted them creating conflict? However, you recognized at the end of it all you were wrong in your presumption? When you presume to know someone’s motives or actions and confront according to your presumption, you will produce conflict. You have to be careful about thinking you know things about others when you really don’t. You can’t read minds or motives!

     Have you ever found yourself irritated or angry about the habits or patterns of others?   They are not sinful habits or patterns, just corky. As a result, you find yourself pointing out things in their lives that you want them to change because it irritates or angers you. You want them to confess and change for your comfort and benefit. You are not interested in leading them to see sin that God wants them to confess and change for God’s glory and their benefit. Your confrontation is motivated by selfishness, thereby leading to conflict.

     As you are reading this, are you starting to see yourself and others around you? Are you getting an idea as to why there tends to be conflict among you?   Think back to a time where you knew you where right, and you had the Scriptures to back you up. Instead of helping others see their sin through the Scripture, you attacked them about their sins using the Scriptures, which resulted in conflict. When you use Scripture to attack others instead of using it to help others see their sin to confess and repent unto God, conflict is inevitable.

     If confrontation was done for the right reasons with right motives, there would be less conflict and more resolution—things would be less hectic and more harmonious. All of what we have read leads us to conflict, but there is only one root cause or root source for conflict.The root cause of conflict can be traced back to desires you have turned into lusts and are demanding others to satisfy, thus creating conflict."What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?   Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have  because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your
pleasures." (Jam 4:1-3)

 

     The desires from within wage war against your mind, will, and emotions. These desires cannot be satisfied by you. Someone else has to decide to serve you accordingly. Your appetite for these desires leads you to be overly preoccupied with satisfying these desires resulting in all types of conflict. Your appetite for these desires leads you to sin to satisfy these desires and to sin when these desires are not satisfied resulting in all types of conflict and self-serving prayers. Let me suggest to you a few underlying desires you tend to turn to lusts and demand your mate to satisfy thus driving the conflict between you and them.

  •  
     -To be in control–to regulate what people say, think, and do according to your ideals or preferences
  •  -To be loved by others–to have others seek your highest good at all times
  •  -To be accepted by others–to be approved of
  •  -To be understood by others–to have others comprehend you accordingly
  •  -To never be hurt or disappointed by others–to always have people meet your expectations
  •  -To be respected by others–to be treated with reverence
  •  -To be served by others–to have your needs met accordingly          
  •  -To have personal preferences accommodated at all times–to have others to do things your way all the time
  •  -To be viewed as competent by others–to have others see you as intelligent
  •  -To be approved of by others–to be well received by others
  •  -To belong to someone–to be in union with another
  •  -To be held in high regard by others–to be seen as somebody in the eyes of others
  •  -To be significant to others–to be valuable to others
  •  -To be satisfied by others–to receive pleasure accordingly
  •  -To maintain a favorable position with others–to never lose ground with others
  •  -To be secure-to be safe with others
  •  -To never be alone–to always have someone in your life
  •  

     Look at the last fight you had. Which of these desires above did you turn into lust resulting in the conflict? The source of your fights stems from the desires of your heart that are out of control. It was neither the issues nor the confrontation. If you want to get to core of your conflicts evaluate the desires you are willing to sin to get and sin when you don’t get. When you are consumed with your own desires and are willing to sin to satisfy theses desires and to sin as a result of not getting those desires, you are making yourself a friend of the world and an enemy of God. Not that you have lost your salvation with God, but you end up breaking fellowship with God disconnecting from His privileges and blessings of being in the family. When you are more concerned with your agenda and walk in worldliness, you make God jealous. These result in Him handling you as an enemy until you repent."You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a  friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose. He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us. But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble." (Jam 4:4-6)

 

     Look at your recent conflicts and consider how you have been friends with the world. Consider desires that have preoccupied you mind, will, emotions, and affections in ungodly ways leading you to be friendly with the world and compromising your fellowship with God. Look at your ungodly ways of thinking, speaking, and behaving in pursuit of your lustful desires leading you to be friendly with world and compromising your fellowship with God. Consider how you are using or hurting others to satisfy your lustful desires leading you to be friendly with the world and compromising your fellowship with God. Consider the areas of your life where you refuse to obey God in doing what is right with others leading you to be friendly with the world and compromising your fellowship with God.

  
      I remember a couple I counseled many years ago. I had encouraged them to wait a while on marriage due to some character development issues I saw. In spite of my counsel, they chose to marry.   Six months later I received one the most shocking phone calls of my life. The wife called and shared with me that her husband had died of a heart attack. She shared with me that most of their time together during that six month period had been spent fighting. Wow! Take care and evaluate the conflicts that are happening in your relationship.

 
     Whenever you are in conflict with others remember the four “P”s we discussed in the chapter on communication. First, you want to pay attention to your perception of the conflict. Focus on conversations where you tend to discuss matters and concerns from your limited interpretation alone making yourself the hero or the victim. Generally whoever tells the story is the hero. We tend to look at others and their issues more than we look at ourselves when it comes to conflict. Second, pay attention to your preference in the conflict. Identify areas in your life where you are more concerned with things being done your way above loving others. When your way is more important than God’s will, conflict is inevitable. Third, pay attention to preoccupation with pain in the conflict. Notice areas of conversation whereby you tend to talk more about how you have been disappointed or let down by others above how you have disappointed and let down others. It’s hard to be objective about a matter when you are consumed with your pain. Fourth, pay attention to passion in the conflict. You are so consumed with having what you want that you are grumbling, complaining or angry as a result of not getting what you want or getting what you don’t want exposing how you treasure getting your way above loving God’s way. When you are ungrateful or consumed with being denied, you find that conflict is inevitable and loving others difficult. These four “P”s tend to be connected to the conflict that arises in relationships. Listen to this dialogue to give us the picture:

          
           “I don’t believe you love me.” (Perception)

            “Why do you say that honey?”

            “You never handle the money the way I ask you too!”  (Preference)

            “That not true honey, Yesterday I did what you had requested.”

            “I am so sick of your lies. You keep hurting me with your lies!” (Pain)

            “Why don’t you believe me?”

            “When have you ever done anything to please me?” (Passion)

May you pay close attention to the four “P” s and deal with your conflict accordingly.


     So what is the solution to resolving conflict? James 4:7-8 says:Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned  into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

 

     You must submit yourself to God, and resist the Devil. You must turn from sin in action and in heart. You must remorse over your sin while humbling yourself before God. In other words you must free yourself from sin while you submit yourself to God. This is done by confessing, repenting, remorsing, and replacing the sin through submission to godly thoughts, desires, words, actions, and relationship patterns according to the situation. So how can we apply this to conflict resolution? First, examine yourself to see where you have sinned in the conflict. Ask yourself:

 

  •   -Were my words seasoned with grace or sin?
  •   -Was I grumbling, complaining, slandering, or gossiping?
  •   -Were my words negative, critical, hurtful or destructive?
  •    -Have I exaggerated the truth?
  •    -Did I handle my responsibilities in the matter?
  •    -Did I keep my word in the matter?
  •    -Did I respect or rebel against God given authority?
  •    -Would I want my spouse to treat me the way I treated them?
  •    -What desire was I preoccupied with and what did I do to satisfy it?
  •    -Did I withhold love?

 

     Second, confess your sins to God and to others, and begin to alter your attitude and actions in the area you have confessed. The process would be as follows: 

-Talk with God about your specific sin and renounce it immediately.

-Admit to others how you have specifically sinned against them in attitude   and /or action.

-Ask their forgiveness of your sin against them.

-Accept the consequences of your sin and make the necessary restitution.

-Alter your attitudes, actions, relationship patterns to line up with the standards of God.

 (Process adapted from Ken Sande in his book Peace Makers)

 

     Third, at the appropriate time, address the sin issue of others with the intent to restore them, to resolve the matter, and not with the intent to destroy them. You would do this by: 
-Speaking the truth in love

  • -Helping him or her work through the faults accordingly
  • -Allowing him or her time to respond
  • -Resting and waiting on God to do His Will
  • -Be at peace with the your spouse as much as it depends on you covering it and moving on when the issue is resolved

 

     Fourth, if the issue remains unsettled, you want to get others involved to resolve the issue not to take sides in the issue. The goal is not to get people to take your side. The goal is get people involved that will honor God on all sides and help you both deal with the problem. You want people involved who will promote two “P” s in the matter. You want people who will consider the Precept on the matter. They will interpret the situation from a biblical perspective with specific principles from the Bible that govern the problems accordingly. You want people who will consider the Practice in the matter. They will identify specific ways to think, communicate, behave, relate, and serve that will help you both put off the sin problem and put on the right way of living to the glory of God.


     A husband and wife went to talk to their friend to resolve their conflict. The husband presented his case to the friend, and his friend responded by saying “You are right!” The wife presented her case to her husband’s friend and he responded by saying “You are right!” The husband and wife looked at him and both responded by saying, “How can we both be right?” And he responded, “I guess you guys have a point.” This is not the kind of person you want to help you resolve a problem. You do not need “yes” men; you need men who will honor God and serve you. As you and your spouse evaluate this chapter make sure you both are honest with God, yourselves, and each other so that you can resolve conflict to the glory of God and the benefit of each other.


Use this guide below to help you work through some the conflict you are having with others:
 

1. What is the problem or situation?

 

2. How does the Bible address or discuss this problem or situation?

 

3. Is this problem or situation based on personal preferences (the way I want something to be) or  

   is this problem or situation based on a violation of Biblical Principles (the way God wants

   something be?) (Romans 14:1-15:3, Philippians 2:1-16)

 

4. Is it a problem or situation whereby: (Circle the answer that seems to fit your problem or

   situation)

  1. You both have faulty views on the matter and need the truth of God’s Word to clarify and clear up the matter?
  2. You both know the truth on the matter but refuse to obey God in the truth you know?
  3. You both know the truth in the matter but do not know how to apply what you know to the matter?

                                                                                                                                                           

5. What are the underlying desires you have turned into lusts and are demanding the other

     person to satisfy in this problem or situation? Is the conflict between you and the other

     person? Circle the ones that apply to your situation. (James 3:13-James 4:3)

  1. To be in control – to regulate what people say, think, and do according to your ideals or preferences
  2. To be loved by others – to have others seek your highest good at all times
  3. To be accepted by others – to be approved of
  4. To be understood by others – to have others comprehend you accordingly
  5. To never be hurt or disappointed by others – to always have people meet your expectations
  6. To be respected by others – to be treated with reverence
  7. To be served by others – to have your needs met accordingly
  8. To have personal preferences accommodated at all times – to have others to do things your way all the time
  9. To be viewed as competent by others – to have others see you as intelligent
  10. To be approved of by others – to be well received by others
  11. To belong to someone – to be in union with another
  12. To be held in high regard by others – to be seen as somebody in the eyes of others
  13. To be significant to others – to be valuable to others
  14. To be satisfied by others – to receive pleasure accordingly
  15. To maintain a favorable position with others – to never loose ground with   others
  16. To be secure- to be safe with others
  17. To never be alone – to always have someone in your life

 

6. What ways have you both been dealing with each other in the problem or situation?

 

7. What personal preferences(the way I want things to be) of yourself and the other   person seem

     to be coming up in dealing with the problem or situation?

 

8. What attitudinal, verbal, behavioral, relational sins need to be confessed to God and   to each

   other as result of how you both have been dealing with each other in the problem or situation?

 

9. What do you believe should be done by you to resolve the problem or situation?

 
10. Is your insight based on personal preferences (the way I want things to be done) or is your

       insight based on biblical standards? (the way God wants things to be done)

 

11. What do you believe should be done by the other person to resolve the problem or situation?

 

12. Is your insight based on personal preferences (the way I want things to be done) or is your

       insight based on biblical standards? (the way God wants things to be done)

 

13. In what ways do you need to consider the personal preferences of the other person in the

      problem or situation?

 

14. What personal preferences do you need to let go of that you have for the other person in the

       problem or situation?

 

15. Based upon the biblical passages reviewed, personal preferences discovered, the sin   issues

      uncovered, the desires unfolded and the suggestions of what you believe should be done by

      you and the other person, what is the plan of resolution?

 

16. What specific thoughts, words, actions, relational patterns and service towards the   other

       person needs to be developed to bring resolution and build God-honoring character in your

       life and the life of the other person?

 

17. What things are you unwilling to do? Why?

 

18. Do you have biblical grounds for why you are unwilling to do it?

 

19. What are the tangible measures to determine if you are progressing or digressing?


20. Who will hold you accountable to continue working through the plan of resolution?

 

 

 

 

 

 
The Four Styles of Relating

The Four Styles of Relating

 

            If you only had five minutes to live, to what would you want to say to your spouse? Would there be anything you would want to do for them before you died? As you think about your spouse, how do you relate to them right now? Are you saying and doing for them now the things you would want to do if you were dying? I find it fascinating how we handle spouses in crisis differently than when things are okay. Some handle spouses better in crisis than they would in times of peace. If I were to interview your spouse, what would they say about the way you relate? Our relational patterns are key to understanding the nature and quality of the relationships we have and the ones we have lost. Have you ever considered why you relate the way you do and how you relate the way you do?  


            As I read the Heart of Man and Mental Disorders by Rich Thomson, I learned about four kinds of human relationships. This information guided me in the process of learning about myself as well as writing this chapter. I learned why some did not like to be around me, and why I could not get away from others. As I evaluated all the places God allowed me to minister, it helped me to understand why I was successful in some ministry opportunities, and in other cases I did not do so well. I have been able to see why some days I am driving my wife crazy, but other days I can be a blessing to her. At this stage you and your spouse should begin to evaluate the level of relating you need to embrace on a consistent basis with each other and with others around you.


             In Proverbs 27:5-6, we can identify 4 levels of relating that we tend walk in on a regular basis. Let me give you a little background about these particular verses so that we can better explore the meaning. We are getting a comparison between styles of relating. In verse 5 the comparison is “better is this than that” approach. For instance it says “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.” The idea here is that if you only had these two options to choose from, then open rebuke is better than love concealed. The text is not saying that it is the best situation over all, but rather compared to the other, it is better. Another example of this is in Proverbs 25: 24, which tells us, “It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” Now obviously living in a corner of the roof is not the best situation for anyone, but compared to sharing a house with a contentious woman, it is better. You get the idea?   So Proverbs 27:5 is showing us that open rebuke is better than love concealed. It is not the best situation over all, but compared to love that is concealed, it is better.  


            Verse 6 compares by contrast. Note that it states, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” One who is faithful to you is one who loves you to the point of not being afraid of allowing pain in the relationship if it will make you better or help you to grow in character. The “deceitful kiss of an enemy” gives the idea of one who is acting as if everything is okay between you and him, yet in reality he is holding inside of him grudges or problems he has with you. Yet, on the outside a kiss of endearment gives the impression that everything is okay within the relationship. Within verses 5 and 6, based on these comparisons, we find four levels of relating that all of us at some point tend to walk in. Now, let’s look at these two verses and see if we can identify the levels of relating found in them.

           
            Do you remember the cartoon Popeye? I can remember when Brutus would take Olive Oil from Popeye and beat him up. Popeye would stay quiet, and finally when he had enough, he would say, “That’s all I can stand and I can’t stand no more!” Then, he would eat his spinach, beat up Brutus, and rescue Olive Oil. As I got older I thought to myself, “There is a lot of unhealthy relating going on between Popeye, Olive Oil and Brutus.”—when you find yourself analyzing cartoons, you have become too old to watch them!

The way Popeye handled Brutus gives us an example of the first style of relating we find in Proverbs 27:5. “Open rebuke is better than love that is concealed.” The term “open rebuke” gives the picture of someone who is confronting a person with truth about their situation, but they are not doing it in a loving manner. This is what we call relating in a way where you are Open and Unloving. To be open and unloving means that you are right in what you are communicating to a person, but you are nasty in the way you are communicating.

           
           There have been times where I have not liked something my wife had said or done, and my approach to her was rude, sarcastic, and unkind. What I communicated to her was accurate, but the way I communicated it was unloving. In an open and unloving style, we correct and confront people about matters not because we care about them but because we are “upset about it” or “we have had enough.” The problem is that even though we are speaking truth, it is not in love, rather it is merely to get some things off our chest. We are not considering their interest; we are focused on our own. We are not seeking to help the person with the information; we are seeking to hurt the person. We are like Popeye, and we end up saying more or less, “That’s all I can stand and I can’t stand no more!” In an open and unloving style of relating you are open in what you have to say to and about the person, but you are not caring about how it comes out or the impact it has on the person. When you are open and unloving, you will find yourself rebuking others with no respect for the person or position, exposing the sin of others with rudeness, exposing character flaws with harshness, or even speaking truth with no love. With this style, you will find that things are always out in the open. However, problems may be hard to resolve or may not be resolved at all because others can’t get beyond your negative attitude towards them. In this style, you are right in what you are saying but wrong in the way you are saying it, and wrong in your motive.

           
            In the movie Hitch, there was a man who helped another man learn ways to capture the attention of a young lady in whom he was interested. This man found it hard to communicate what was in his heart. His motives, thoughts, and intentions were all in the right place, but he could not put what was in his heart into words and actions. Have you ever found yourself wanting to share or to do something for someone else, but because you did not know the best way to say it or do it, it went unspoken or undone? Have you ever found yourself sidetracked from relating in love with someone due to some time constraints or other obligations? It’s not that you were scared or unwilling; you just missed the opportunity or were unskilled in ways of doing it. If you have found yourself in any of the above situations, you are exhibiting a style of relating we called Closed and Loving. “Open rebuke is better than love concealed.” Love that is concealed is being closed and loving. Are you getting it? When your style of relating is closed and loving, the love that is within your heart does not transcend to the person you love. Sometimes, kind words, loving rebuke, or even thoughts of thankfulness are not communicated due to time constraints or a lack of skills in how to love. You are not in any way afraid of what they might say or do nor are you concerned about rejection or rebuke. You just have not taken the time or have not learned how to give what‘s within you to others in a way that they can benefit and be blessed by you.

           
            I can remember a time in my marriage when my wife was doing so many wonderful things that were beneficial to our relationship, but I remained silent in words or actions to show love to her. I took her love and work for granted. I really appreciated what she was doing, and I really wanted to show love, but I got sidetracked with ministering and had not studied my wife enough to discover the best way to show her love. Needless to say, my wife felt unappreciated and unloved. I was being closed and loving. It’s like the story of the man who had been married for twenty years. His brother asked him why he didn’t tell his wife on a regular basis that he loved her. The man said, “I told her I loved her twenty years ago. I meant it then, and I haven’t changed!” This is closed and loving. A closed and loving style can be seen when we are appreciative or concerned but not showing it, having praise in our hearts but not expressing it, or desiring the highest good of others but not expressing it. Now when you read, “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed,” it is not saying that the best situation for a person is to be open and unloving. It is merely saying that if you only had to choose between being closed and loving and open and unloving, one is better than the other. It is not that one should strive to be open and unloving; it just making the statement that one style of relating is better than the other.


        However, as we look at verse 6, we can see two more styles of relating and draw our conclusion as to which style of relating we should strive to develop.  I remember counseling a couple that was having a difficult time staying married, and I had to share some very difficult things with them. We had a good counseling relationship, and they knew I loved them. They trusted my counsel and submitted to the applications given to them to help restore the marriage. Yet, there were still things I needed to say that I knew would be hard to hear. As I waited for the right time and the right way, I finally shared those hard things with them. They were devastated. The insights hit them at the core of their hearts and marriage. They both wept. I just knew they were going to be angry and never return for counseling. I figured I had lost their friendship. My words were loving, timely, and caring but also hard and rebuking. Yet, something happened that shocked me. They looked at me as they were wiping the tears and said, “Thank you. Now we understand what has been damaging our marriage!” Wow! They understood that I was not seeking to be harsh for harshness sake, or seeking to speak rebuking words to get something off my chest. They knew that I had absolutely nothing to gain for myself in sharing that information. I was merely a friend being faithful to the level of the relationship we had developed. I was faithful enough to tell them hard things to help them not to hurt them—nevertheless, accepting the fact that it may hurt their feelings. This is what we call being Open and Loving. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”


        One who is being a faithful friend is one who is seeking to do what is beneficial even if doing it will bring pain to the relationship. The Open and Loving style speaks truth with love. The words spoken are spoken with the best interest of the other person in mind. The communication is for the edification of the other person. It is not about the frustration of the one speaking. This does not mean that a person should not express himself to others when he is disappointed. But, the motive and intent of expression is the consideration. One does not have to be nasty and rude in expressing thoughts or concerns. One can be truthful and loving. The Open and Loving style is about communicating and relating with others in a way that is considerate, concerned, and caring. It is communicating and relating with others in the right way, at the right time, for the right purpose. In an open and loving style, the person is hurt not because of the attitude or actions of the other person but because of the truth that is spoken to them. The attitude and actions of the giver of truth freed the receiver of truth to deal with the reality of the truth spoken. When you are open and loving, you will find yourself showing appreciation, spending quality time with others, giving encouragement and helpful rebuke, or meeting needs and bearing burdens of others.  


        Right after Seminary I had developed a friendship with a guy that I really started to dislike. This guy had the nerve to tell me things about myself that I did not like! Can you believe that! How dare he tell me those things! Who did he think he was? As I look back, I realize that he was being a faithful friend. He was being open and loving—13 years later I really miss him!  

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone whose breath was so bad that you had to take a step back? Did you tell them or did you smile and politely end the conversation saying to yourself, “Wow that guy needed a mint?” Have you ever gone shopping with someone, and they picked out clothes that made them look as big as a house, but instead of being honest, you kept quiet? Have you ever had a problem with someone, but they never knew because you never said a word?   Is there anyone in your life right now that you have a grudge against, yet when you are around them you act is if everything is okay?   Is there anyone in your life that you are afraid to be honest with because of what they might do to you, take from you, or deny you?


        If you find yourself in any of the above scenarios, you have been walking in a Closed and Unloving style of relating. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” A deceitful kiss is one that is given with pretense not sincerity. It is from people who are pretending to be okay with you, but in their hearts they are holding something against you. They talk kindly to you but rudely about you to others. A closed an unloving style is hard to spot. It appears as open and loving. It is sometimes mistaken as closed and loving. But, when you are afraid to speak the truth in love, you are being closed and unloving. When you are more polite than honest, you are being closed and unloving. When you hold a grudge, and refuse to share your heart in a loving manner, you’re being closed and unloving.


       One day I was upset with my wife because she had not done something that I wanted her to do. My wife did not have a clue. As I begin to speak with sarcasm and short sentences, she began to pick up on the fact that something was wrong. When she asked if there was something wrong, like a real man I stated, “Nothing. I’m fine.” That ladies and gentlemen is the epitome of being closed and unloving. When you are operating in a closed and unloving style of relating, you find yourself talking about people behind their backs instead of to them, holding grudges instead of sharing hurts, being polite instead of being honest, or pretending to be okay with people when you are really not.


      As we have evaluated Proverbs 27:5-6, we have seen that sometimes we can be open and unloving, closed and loving, open and loving or closed and unloving. As you look at your relationship with your spouse, what style of relating do you find yourself exhibiting the most? Why do you suppose you relate with each other according to that style more than another. How has your upbringing and past relationships impacted the style of relating you tend to operate in with your spouse?

What you probably have noticed is that most of the time one of you tends to be open and unloving while the other tends to be closed and unloving. Finally, you both calm down and begin to figure out how to express love to each other, but due to time constraints or poor training you have not expressed the love (closed and loving). Eventually apologies are given, love is expressed (open and loving), and every one is happy.


       As Proverbs gives us these four styles of relating, it is obvious that the style we are to strive to operate in is Open and Loving.   Therefore, when we are not open and loving we need to confess our unloving thoughts, words, and actions accordingly (Proverbs 28:13). Second, we need to begin speaking open expressions of love by faith not feelings (Ephesians 4:15, 25, 29). Third, we need to begin showing open expressions of love by faith (1Corinthains 13:4-7). Finally, we need to trust God’s power not our feelings or abilities to accomplish this style of relating. All of this will have major impact on your marriage. Your relational style will impact the quality of your marriage. If you are not pursing to be open and loving, you will find the relationship less than its best. Be honest with yourself, with God, and with your spouse in this matter and pursue to be Open and Loving.

 

 
How To Deal With Past

How To Deal with the Past

 

            Think back to a time when you were in your most pain. Think about things right now that are being disrupted because of your past experience. Many of you right now are going through many different challenges, trials, and frustrations because the past is still in the present. Many of you can‘t move on in relationships, jobs, or family because there is something in the past that is holding you hostage in the present. Future relationships will suffer in the future if you do not deal with the issues of the past properly. Many of the fights you have with your spouse right now are probably tied to something in the past that you are allowing to affect the present relationship. How do we move from a place where tomorrow is not a slave to yesterday? Where today is free, and we can serve, anticipating tomorrow instead of being afraid of it? How do we move from a place where we are not in bondage to the past? I would like to suggest to you four principles that can help you deal with the past in order to move into the future.

          
           In order to deal with the past, you must not be consumed with desires from past experiences (Num 11: 1-6). For instance, perhaps you were in a situation where you lacked the security, support, or safety you craved. As a result of not having these perhaps you suffered great harm. Your desire now for these things you treasured in the past shapes your perception, decisions and actions towards people, places, and things in the present.  Consequently, your relationship with others is impacted by these desires—desires you treasure above God and the relationship. These desires can become the center of your life leading you to worship these desires and be fearful of the future and thereby producing harm to your relationships. The Bible tells us that there is no fear in love, but rather, perfect love cast out fear (1Jn 4:17-18). Your preoccupation with protecting yourself and providing for yourself keeps you focused on yourself instead of loving God and loving others. You must place these desires in their proper place. They must not master you (1Cor 6:12). What are some things you treasure now that you must put in its proper place?   Is it revenge, love, acceptance, security, safety, or respect? Whatever it might be, it can no longer control you. You must control it! Think about your spouse? How much of what you treasure now from the past impacts the way you relate with others in the present?  Many of you have been told negative things in the past, and you have made it your life’s ambition to prove those people wrong. As a result present relationships suffer the consequences. Many of you have been rejected and mistreated in the past, and you have made it your life ambition to never again be rejected and mistreated. As a result these things have shaped your perspective of others and the future, as well as your actions and your choices in the present. You must not be consumed with desires from the past. The past is not your problem. Rather, your desires from the past are affecting your actions and your choices in the present.

           
           Second, in order to deal with the past, you must view God according to His present character instead of your past experience (Gen 50:15-20). Your view of God shapes your decisions concerning every problem you encounter. If you truly embrace the facts that God is in control and He knows the best course of action to bring about His glory and your greatest good, always having your best interest at heart, would you worry? You worry because you do not embrace those realities about God. If you truly embraced those character traits of God, would you be mad, angry, or bitter at God about your past? Is it possible that the right view of God could change your interpretation of the past? You must look at your past through the lenses of God’s grace and rejoice. Have you considered that whatever happened or didn’t happen, that your life could be worse?   God’s grace provided you with things in the past that you did not deserve. God’s grace kept you from things in the past that could have made your life worse that what you may think it is now. Look at the sin you committed then, and consider God’s mercy on you. Look at what God could have allowed as a result of your choices but did not.   You should not ask questions such as why wasn’t God there or why did He allowed certain things to happen. You should ask questions such as what was He trying to accomplish to His glory and your benefit, and how is you using that experience to transform you into the image of Jesus Christ? What other people meant for evil against you, God meant for good for you. You are promised that God will cause all things to work together for your good (Rom 8:28). It may have felt like He was not there, or He couldn’t make something good out of it. But the reality is God can, and He will make something good out of something terrible. God does not waste pain in our lives. Through the pain of your past, God is seeking to develop spiritual maturity in your life in the present resulting in your knowing Him intimately and being useful to Him practically (Rom 5:1-5, Jam 1:1-5, Jn 15:1-11). Your view of God impacts your view of the relationship you are in right now because the way you are handling others is revealing how you are relating with God. You can’t say you love God and yet treat others with contempt or suspicion. You can’t say you love God and be overly preoccupied with protecting yourself from pain, or disappointment. Your history is His story! He is controlling the outcome (Eccl 7:13-14, 3:1-11, 9:1-2). Therefore, to move from the past, you must interpret your past through the character of God instead of through the pain of the experience, so that you can be free to love God and love others.

           
           Third, in order to deal with the past you must confess and repent of present sinful attitudes, words, and actions toward past experiences (Prv 28:13-14). Look at the sinful belief system you have developed towards God and others as a result of the past and acknowledge it to God while turning away from it and replacing it with the right belief system. Many of you may think that God is powerful, but He does not love you because of what He has allowed to happen in your life. You may tend to believe that no one else will truly love you either. As a result you find yourself bitter and angry with God and others. The fact is that God is powerful and He does love you. He allows things in our lives to lead us to Spiritual Maturity. He will bring people into our lives to love us according to His will and good pleasure. Therefore, you must confess this faulty belief system as sinful while you turn away from it and replace it with the right attitude about God others according to Scripture (Rom 12:2-3). You must identify your present ungodly ways of speaking, which developed from the past experience, and turn away from it (Eph 4:29). If there is sarcasm, criticism or just plain old negativism in relation to your conversations about the past, confess it, and replace it with thanksgiving and praise for God and His plan (1Thes 5:18). You must identify your present ungodly actions, which have developed from the past experience, and turn away from them. Look at the way you act around people as a result of your past experience. Are you unloving or unkind? Confess, repent, and replace those actions with kindness, and politeness. A little boy had his hand in the cookie jar and found his hand stuck. He yelled for his mother to come help him. She put grease and butter and all kinds of oil on his hand to help get his hand out of the jar. She asked her son to tell her how he had his hand positioned in the cookie jar. The little boy told her that his hand was positioned around the cookie. His mother said to him let it go and he’d be able to get his hand out of the cookie jar! Many of you have your hands stuck in the cookie jar of the past. You won’t let go of the cookie of revenge, the cookie of trying to show people that you are not a looser, the cookie of trying to get others to admit they were wrong, the cookie of trying to get others to make restitution for what they have done to you, the cookie of approval or even the cookie of security. As a result, you can’t be free. If you want to be free you have to let go of those cookies of the past. You have let go of the attitudes, words, and actions that keep leading you back to the cookie jar! Freedom comes as we deal with the sin properly instead of rationalizing and justifying ourselves. We must fess up where we messed up, let go, and move on!

           
          Finally, in order to deal with the past, you must pursue the prize of being with and knowing Jesus Christ (Phil 3:7-14). You must consider the treasure of this life as nothing compared to knowing Christ. What you want from the past cannot compare to what Christ will provide in the future. The pain you have been running from cannot compare to the pleasure you can run to with Christ Jesus in the present. Wanting someone from the past to treat you right can’t compare to God treating you right forever in paradise. Consumed with wishing the way things could have been if the person would not have done what he or she did will not compare to what it will be like in Heaven with Christ Jesus. You must set your mind on things above instead of things below (Col 3:1-4). If you don’t do this, you will find yourself disobedient and unloving in the present towards God and others because of past experiences. You must let go of preoccupation with past accomplishments, rewards, and experiences and pursue the hope of the new life in Christ (Phil 3:13-14). Until you run the race set before you by God and pursue that which is ahead of you instead of that which is behind you, there will be a disconnect between you, God, and others. You must enjoy what God has provided now without being consumed with what you believed you lacked in the past. I saw a movie where this racecar driver took the rear view mirror down, and his partner asked him why. He said “What’s behind me is not important!” You must take the rear view mirror of the past out of your life because It is where you are going not what’s behind you that is important. God has called us to a higher calling,; He is moving us to a higher place; He is taking us somewhere that we have never been before, and He is giving us a peace that surpasses all understanding. Let go of the past, and pursue Him for the future. Rest assured that it will change your outlook, you attitude, and your actions towards God and others.

 

How to Deal with the Past

 

What has happened to you?

What was your reaction in thought, words, and deeds to God, people in this situation?

What did you expect that you did not get from God, people, circumstances?  

What did you get that did not expect from God, people, and circumstances?

What was your view of God before the situation occurred?

What was your view of God while the situation was occurring?

What was your view of God after the situation occurred?

What do you want from God, people, and circumstances in the present so that you can get through the past situation?

What feelings about God, people, and circumstances arise when you think about the past situation?

Have you considered what God was doing when He allowed this situation to happen to you?

How was or is He using the situation from the past to make you more like Christ in the present?

What have you learned about your patterns of sin from your past situation?

What have you learned about the patterns of God’s Grace from your past situation?

What have you learned about God’s character from your past situation?

What have you learned about your character from your past situation?

What do you need to change in thoughts, words, actions, expectations in order to grow from the past situation

What do you need to change in thoughts, words, actions, expectations in order to draw near to God?

Who controls your thoughts, words, actions, expectations?

Who is responsible for changing your thoughts, words, actions, and expectations?

Is there ever a right time to sin against God in thoughts, words, actions?

Has God given you the power to obey Him in all circumstances?

Has God given you everything you need for life and Godliness?

Can you truly do all   things through Christ?

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 
Developing Effective Communication

Developing Effective Communication

 

            When I’m talking, I hate it when ___________ happens. Can you fill in the blank? The worst thing that was ever said to me was ______________. The worst thing I ever said to anyone was____________.   There was a saying I used to hear, “Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!” That is not true. Words can create a lot of pain in your life. Words can ruin or refresh you. When you think about it, words only hurt because of the value we put on them and expectations we have of people. When I expect people to say certain things to me, I value their words. When those words are not spoken, I am disappointed, resulting in feeling the pain of the disappointment. Those same words in the mouth of someone else mean nothing to me. They have no effect or impact because I don’t expect or desire to hear those words from that person. So your words impact others to the degree that others care to hear what you have to say. When it comes to people close to you, your words have so much value because people close to you have expectations of what they want to hear from you. Therefore, you must work on developing effective communication. But, before we talk about developing effective communication, let’s consider four key factors in communication.


            First, you must consider that words reflect what’s in your heart (Luke 6:44-45). Words are the mechanism by which the ideas of your heart are communicated. Moreover, communication problems are really heart problems. The condition of your heart comes out in the communication of your words. So, as you evaluate your communication problems, you need to evaluate the condition of your heart.

          Second, you must consider that words define, explain, and interpret your perspective of life (Luke 6:44-45). The names you give things determine how you treat those things. For example, adultery or affair, fornication or sleeping together, sodomy or alternative lifestyle, greed or excessive spending, grumbling or saying what I feel, slander or sharing, angry or feeling upset, frustrated, unkind or cranky?   The name you give these things determine if you will treat them as sin or if you will treat them as something neutral. As a result you will take responsibility for these things, or you will act as if you are not responsible. For example you will find yourself saying things such as: “ It made me angry or I chose to react with anger;” “His behavior made me bitter, or I chose to be bitter as a reaction to his behavior;” “I have a drinking disease, or I have a sinful drinking pattern;” “You get on my nerves, or I choose to allow your habits to control my thoughts, words, and actions;” or “That’s just the way I am, or I choose not to change.” The use of these words exposes whether you take responsibility for your sins or excuse your sins.


           Third, words reflect the system of life by which you operate (1John 4:5-6). Those who are governed by the standards of the world communicate by the world’s standards. Those who are governed by the standards of God communicate by His standards. Your words reveal just who you live for.


         Fourth, your words direct and shape your relationship with others (Proverbs 12:18). If you speak rashly, you truly bring pain to people’s lives. But if you speak wisely you bring healing. As you evaluate the nature of your relationships, pay attention to the way you use your words. Through knowing and understanding these basic principles, you can develop effective communication in marriage. Yet, there are other biblical principles we need to consider in order to develop effective communication in marriage. Let’s examine some of them.

       
         Proverbs 18:2 states “A fool does not delight in understanding but only in revealing his own mind.” When you find yourself not wanting to listen but only wanting to be heard, you are blocking yourself from gaining good understanding. When you lack good understanding, you will tend to interpret other’s speech by your own perception of them, allowing your opinions of them to determine how you listen. Moreover, when you lack good understanding, you will tend to interpret the speech of others according to your preferences, allowing what you want them to do or think in relation to the matter to determine how you listen to them . If you don’t gain good understanding, you will tend to interpret the speech of others according to your pain, allowing your disappointments, hurts, and frustrations to determine how you listen to them. Finally, when you lack good understanding, you will interpret the speech of others according to your passions, allowing what you want from them to determine how you listen. A woman came to me and said, “My husband does not love me, (perception) because if he did, he would not continue to make the decisions he makes (preference) realizing that he really disappoints me (pain) when he continues to deny me what is important to me!(passion)” Do you see it? When you don’t seek to gain good understanding, you are left to your own understanding resulting in self-centered interpretations and bad understanding.

         
          Proverbs 18:15 states “The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Effective communication begins with good listening. Therefore, if you are not willing to listen, you will not have effective communication. Listening leads to good understanding, which is the key to effective communication. Therefore, you need to make sure you have correctly heard the words of others.   Remove all distractions inside and outside so you can hear correctly. Next, seek to understand what the person means by his or her words. Don’t assume that what others mean by their words is the same as what you mean by your words. Ask the question, “What did you mean by what you just said?” This way you don’t assume. Moreover, seek to understand what other people are feeling through their words. As you evaluate emotions, you may be able to see why the other person has used a certain choice of words. Lastly, seek to understand what others are trying to accomplish through their words. Are they trying to explain, make a point, or challenge you? None of these things can be gained if you don’t seek to listen with the intent to gain a good understanding. I had a situation with my wife where I totally missed everything I’m sharing with you. I did not correctly hear what she said, and jumped to conclusions. I misinterpreted what she meant by her words because I was not focused on what she was feeling nor did I care what she was trying to accomplish with her words. I had only myself in mind, so I missed out on gaining a good understanding, resulting in a bad argument!

           
         Proverbs 15:28 states “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” Those who are walking rightly think before they speak. Those who are walking wrongly speak before they think. When you are considering others, think before you speak. Effective communication comes when you are seeking to live righteously. When you are pondering how to answer, you must consider the person you are speaking to. You should ask yourself, “What do I know about this person that should shape what I am about so say?” Also, you must consider the problem. You should ask yourself, “What is the real need or problem, and how should I address it?” Moreover, you must consider the process by which you are going to communicate. You should ask yourself, “Is the way I’m about to speak beneficial to this person?” Most important, when pondering how to answer, you must consider the precepts of God’s Word. You should ask yourself, “What does God’s Word have to say about this?” The story is told of a student who wanted to surpass his teacher in wit. He had an idea that he thought would do it. He was going to take a live bird and put it in his hand and hide the bird behind his back. He would ask his teacher to guess if the bird in his hand was dead or alive. If the teacher said alive, he would crush the bird and show the teacher he was wrong thereby outwitting his teacher. If the teacher said dead, he would let the bird live and show the teacher he was wrong thereby outwitting his teacher. So as the teacher approached he said, “Teacher, is the bird in my hand dead or alive?” The teacher considered the person, considered the problem, considered the process, and considered the precepts of God and responded by saying “You decide!” Wow! Follow this teacher’s example and ponder how to answer before you speak.      

       
         Ephesians 4:29 states “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” You should not say anything to be critical because it tears down and bypasses the issues and tunes in on condemning character. For instance, imagine spending time with a friend and you forget to bring something that he/she requested. As a result your friend begins to call you stupid or retarded and talks about how bad you are. The issue is that you forgot to do what he or she wanted, not your intelligence. This is the idea about speaking unwholesome words. The words tear down instead of build up. You should speak words that build up another person and tunes in on the real issues. Take for instance the above example. Instead of the person calling you stupid or retarded for forgetting to bring what was requested, there could be a dialogue on the problem—the problem being the fact of his or her disappointment around not receiving the object desired. The issue was never about your intelligence but about disappointment. From this we see the example of focusing on the issue without tearing down the person. Therefore we should speak words that focus on dealing with the person’s responsibility as well as words that focus on ministering grace. I remember sharing with a person these words: “It’s amazing how your husband’s intelligence rises and falls according to the completion or incompletion of certain task you assign him.” The problem was not with his intelligence; the problem was with his disappointing her. However, instead of attacking the problem, she decided to attack him. When you don’t seek to speak words that edify, you will do what this lady did. You will attack the person not the problem. In your communication with others, learn to talk to them and not about them. You should talk to the person you have a problem with first and privately with the intent to resolve the issue God’s way. You should not speak words that tear down the character of a person with whom you have a problem when talking to someone else. You should only get other people involved in the matter if you can’t first and privately resolve the issue. The third person’s involvement is to help bring resolution and not to take sides.


         Ephesians 4:25 states, “Therefore laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor for we are members of one another.” You should be honest in your communication with others. That means speaking up or speaking out with the truth while having the other person’s welfare in mind. You speak up or out after you have dealt with your own motives and sin issues. By doing so you won’t have to be silent for fear of being harsh in your tone or hurting their feelings. When you realize that you are not going to build up others with your speech, you should be silent. You are not being helpful to others if you keep quiet because you don’t want to make them feel bad. That means you are keeping the truth from them for the wrong reasons. When you pretend everything is okay and it is not, you are not telling the truth. You can’t build godly realtionships on lies.   Therefore, honesty is truly the best policy.


        Proverbs 27: 6 states “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” In your communication with others, you should keep issues current instead of keeping them quiet. If you are going to be open and loving, you need to say things to others that need to be said and not hold it in for fear or any other ungodly reason. You should keep issues current because when you don’t deal with issues, negative thoughts and emotions build up in your heart. As a result unresolved issues can lead to grudges and bitter attitudes. Therefore, deal with issues immediately and lovingly. When you don’t keep issues current it leads to a distortion of the facts. You can’t see other problems clearly because you are holding on to unresolved issues of the past causing you to loose an objective standard of measure in other issues. Have you considered the grudges you have against others right now?   How have they impacted the way you relate right now?   Keep issues current and not quiet.


      As you evaluate these principles, identify areas where you are doing well and confess, repent, and replace sinful communication patterns with godly ones. Consider the process below: 

 

 

 

Ask people close to you the following questions:

 

1. Are you driven to me or driven away from me by the way I use my words?

 

2. Are you delighted or down after talking to me?

 

3. When I speak am I mainly critical or caring?

 

4. Does it appear to be a chore or a reward to talk to me?

 

5. Are you on the defense or relaxed when I speak?

 

6. Am I constantly complaining or constantly complementing?

 

7. Are my words seasoned with grace or poisoned with bitterness?

 

8. Am I constantly rehearsing the problem or discussing the solution?

 

9. Has your reputation been damaged because of my words?

 

10. When I speak about a situation is it hearsay or is it factual?

 

11. Do I speak the truth without criticizing you or do I criticize you without speaking the Truth?

 

12. Do you believe you have been heard or that I really listen to you?

 

13. Do you not talk to me at times because you believe I will not listen you?

 

14. Do you feel attacked when I talk to you?

 

15. Do I turn personal preferences into moral issues when I talk to you?

 

16. Do I help you or hurt you when I talk? Which seems to be the most consistent?

 

17. Are you afraid to be open and honest with me?