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Serving with Your Wordsby Duane Mabee on March 1, 2017
When you talk with people, what is your primary goal? You might feel like the answer should be obvious, but is it? Listen to other people when they talk and you will quickly discover that people have different goals for their communication. Some just want people to pay attention to them. It doesn’t matter what they are talking about or why, they just want to be the center of attention. Some want to be impressive. Some want to win; every conversation feels like a competition. Some want to instruct. Some want to entertain. We have many different objectives for communicating, and they change from one conversation to the next.
I ran across this quote from Jedd Medfined and Erik Lokkesmoe again today. They contend that for the believer, “truly great communication is found in serving others well through our communication.” You might want to read that one again. Do you think of your words as serving others? The concept fits well with what we will be talking about from Philippians.
In chapter 2, Paul instructs us to “regard one another as more important than yourselves” and “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” How well do our conversations match those instructions? To truly serve each other with our words, we also need to ask how well our listening matches those instructions. It is not possible to serve someone well with our words until we have listened to them well.
When you are in a conversation with someone, how well do you listen? Do you listen to understand not only what they are saying, but what’s in their heart? Do you listen with the attitude that what they are saying is “more important than” what you are thinking or what you want to say next? Do you listen to understand or to defeat?
When you are in a conversation with someone, what is the impact of your words? Do you know? What do you intend the impact to be? Can you imagine Jesus saying the same words to you in the same tone?
We will know that we have served others well through our communication when our presence and words have built them up, encouraged them, and spurred them on to love and good deeds. We will know that we have ministered to them through our conversations when they are better, stronger, and more in love with Jesus because of our presence, our listening, and our words. We minister well with our words when the love and grace of God flow from our tongues.