Home: Where Stories Are Made
The Art of Communication
Day 1: Begin this week by reading through the Next Steps “Take 5” Questions below. Invite the Holy Spirit to speak truth into you as you consider and answer the questions. Write down your thoughts, responses, and what God is showing you. Use the “Take 5” questions this week as a conversation starter with your family or possibly a close friend.
1. Based on Ephesians 4:29, what level of communication do you have with those closest to you? Level 1 – Do you avoid unwholesome talk? Level 2 – Do you use words to build them up. Level 3 – Do you seek to understand their needs (remembering the differences between how men and women communicate) and then use your words accordingly, to that the other person might benefit?
2. Husbands (men), based on the fact that women appreciate face to face connection, what is one practical step you can take in order to more effectively communicate with your wife (mom, daughter) in a way that communicates care and understanding? Will you do it? (see I Peter 3:7)
3. Wives (ladies), based on the fact that men appreciate shoulder to shoulder friendship, what is one practical step you can implement in order to connect with your husband in this way? Will you do it? (see James 1:19)
Day 2: In our current series, Home: Where Stories Are Made, we are reflecting on the important relationships in our lives. A foundational element of any relationship is communication. Communication - like electricity, oxygen, or wifi – are all things that we can get so used to that we take them for granted. Read James 1:19. Take time to pray that God would reveal attitudes and behaviors within you that could improve how you speak and listen to others. Consider these questions: In the last 24 to 48 hours, when were you quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry? And in the past couple of days when was the opposite true? When were you slow to listen, quick to speak and quick to become angry? Journal your responses or discuss with a close friend.
Day 3: One of the biggest culprits robbing us of creating better communication is distraction. When was the last time you were talking on the phone while trying to accomplish something else (i.e. Multi-tasking, right)? Have you tried to eat, watch TV, sort the mail, drive, or “fill in the blank” during that phone conversation? Divided attention quickly erodes quality conversation to superficial conversation. In I Peter 3:8, we are called to live in harmony with one another; sympathetic, loving, compassionate and humble. Those qualities can be difficult if not impossible to live out while being distracted. So, what distracts you at school, at work, at home or with friends? Is it social media, political chatter, TV, or even the thoughts in your own head? Write down your common distractions. In the message, Cory talked about how the reasons for our communications vary – often between men and women, but our individual personalities come in to play as well. Some of us communicate to verbally process. Some of us communicate to connect emotionally. Some of us communicate in order to problem solve. Are you intentionally listening in such a way to recognize the difference? Active listening can help us improve our marriage; in fact, it can help improve any relationship. Some examples of active listening are: giving and maintaining eye contact, repeating back the communicator’s point or message, or asking clarifying questions. Each of these require turning from distractions. Choose one active listening strategy to practice today praying that God will show you opportunities. Ask God to help you.
Day 4: This week have you been practicing listening skills as you consider your own communication? What have you noticed? Read Ephesians 4:29. As you reflect on that verse, do you squirm in your chair a bit? Our words can have a profound effect, whether they inspire, comfort, encourage, uplift or if they tear down, judge, expose, or belittle a person. Journal some adjectives that describe how you would like to speak to your boss, co-worker, teacher, friend, spouse, family member, or even a stranger, today. Think about what you speak and how you speak today.
Day 5: Do you remember the snowball effect? Kids are great at this. To start, they gather some snow in their hands and pack it together. Then, they put it on the ground and begin rolling it. As they push it around, it begins to grow. Now consider the fun of pushing the snowball down a hill. It can become easier as you take advantage of the hill. Habits and patterns are like snowballs. They build and grow over time, through frequent repetition. As you begin to practice more thoughtful and intentional communication, you are taking strides and growing as a Christ-follower. Over time, this practice becomes a pattern and eventually a habit reaping benefits in many aspects of your life. Look back over the suggested listening and communication strategies from this week’s devo. How are you doing with distractions? Active listening? Ask a friend or family member how you could improve as a listener? How about how you communicate? Make a decision to practice one communication strategy for the next week or month. Take time to thank God for the work He is doing in you and ask the Spirit’s help in rolling the snowball.