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Share Togetherby Duane Mabee on March 30, 2017
What does it mean to communicate? The prefix “com” means together. The word “communication” itself comes from the Latin for “to share together”. I knew part of that, but I am indebted to Medefind and Lokkesome’s book Upended for the basis of the thoughts I’m about to share. I’ve run off in my own direction, though, so don’t blame them for everything.
In true communication, we share together thoughts, ideas, feelings, dreams, plans, etc. You know what it is like to listen to someone ramble on at length without ever taking a breath to let anyone else speak. I am willing to bet that, like me, when the monologue stops you don’t know what the person was talking about. You stopped listening well before the speech. Communication didn’t happen. Nothing was shared together.
Good communicators know that you must form a connection. People need to know that you care about and want to hear what they think. You also must say what you want them to hear in ways they can receive. Jesus was a master that this. He intentionally found ways to connect with listeners. He asked them questions that showed that He cared. He told simple stories that connected what He wanted them to know with what they already understood. He demonstrated a knowledge and acceptance of their world. He didn’t approve of everything they were involved in, but He accepted them where they were.
This has huge implications for our communication. If we are frustrated because we don’t feel like people are listening to us, maybe we shouldn’t start by trying to state our case more forcefully. Maybe we should start by listening more – caring more about what they want to say. Maybe we should “share together” rather than share more of what we want them to hear.
This simple change will help all our relationships. But, it could also change how non-believers listen when we present the gospel. Medefind and Lokkesome quote novelist E. M. Forster’s pejorative comment “poor little talkative Christianity” to show how many non-believers feel about us – always talking, never listening. We tend to want to give them answers and correctives. What they want, though, is to be heard, understood, and accepted as they are, not as they think you want them to be. It’s only after they feel like we’ve made that connection with them that they will be willing to hear the gospel from us.
Jesus was a master at connecting with non-believers. It would be worthwhile to spend time reviewing how He made connections and showed people that He cared. Then, go out and do some communicating. Share together with people and let them know you’re listening.