A message presented at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church on June 16, 2013:
My wife and I presently go twice a week to the place where she had to go through physical therapy after injuring her back last year. Thankfully, she’s healed from the injury, and we go there to exercise and stay loose through what is termed a “wellness” program. Along with both of us at these workout sessions using the treadmill, sit steppers, weight machine and stationary bike are other people presently in therapy from recent injuries. The difference between wellness and physical therapy is that wellness means you work out on your own, while a certified instructor closely monitors those under physical therapy.
Physical therapy requires a close monitoring of the person who is in rehabilitation by the instructor. There has to be a clear communication of what exercises need to be done in order for the injured person to heal as quickly as possible, and especially because there are a fixed number of weeks that the person can receive treatment under a doctor’s care. The instructor must give instructions that are easy to follow and understand, and the patient also needs to be clear as to the limits of what they can do in their recovery. Both persons need to communicate well with each other in order to ensure that the recovery is timely and effective.
When we look at this type of communication, we see that there are positive results when both persons are cooperating and responding to questions and comments. This is the optimal level of communication that each one of us would like to have in our personal and work relationships. With this in mind, we readily acknowledge that this is sometimes more of a goal than reality. The art of communication is a skill that needs to be developed over time. It requires not just the ability to speak clearly, but also the ability to listen to the other person or persons, interpret the comments, and make a response.
I mention all of this because we need to keep in mind that our best opportunities for relating the gospel of Jesus Christ to others is in how we develop our interpersonal relationships. The development of these relationships starts with effective interpersonal communication. As we are each called by Jesus Christ to preach the gospel, we will explore the science of interpersonal communication. This review of the process will help promote consistency in the ongoing development of relationships, and will hopefully provide a spark for those of us who believe they aren’t the best at communication. For those who make that statement, I must present you with the challenge that your perceived lack of skills in communication is no excuse for not going out and speaking the gospel at the appropriate time. Remember, this is Jesus Christ’s command to each of His followers.
Matthew 28:18-20 (HCSB)
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Here is Moses’ conversation with the Lord about going to speak to Pharaoh on behalf of the Israelites. Moses was not confident of his ability to speak at all. Many of us may feel the same way, but God wants us to see where He works in your communication.
10 But Moses replied to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent—either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant—because I am slow and hesitant in speech.”
11 Yahweh said to him, “Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh? 12 Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.”
13 Moses said, “Please, Lord, send someone else.”
14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses, and He said, “Isn’t Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, he is on his way now to meet you. He will rejoice when he sees you. 15 You will speak with him and tell him what to say. I will help both you and him to speak and will teach you both what to do.
With this information, we can’t use our lack of ability in speech as an excuse, and let’s not exclude those persons who are young believers. With the proper focus on God in the process, young believers can proclaim the gospel just as well as seasoned believers, and to some younger demographics, perhaps even better.
Your effective ministry, in general, requires preparation and the repetition of good habits to show yourself to be a qualified servant of Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 4:11-16
11Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15 Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Whether young or old, a believer will grow in his or her ability to minister to others with practical experience and consistency. This review will look at five different areas that will promote effective interpersonal communication of the gospel to others. The first area starts with something very important in the model of effective communication…your approach, which is reinforced by your attitude.
Your attitude each day is your daily perspective on the importance of the day. Your attitude impacts your outlook on life, and it certainly has a profound effect on your ministry of communication. Do you wake up each morning ready to take on the day with a fervor, or do you approach the day with dread and trepidation? Let’s not gloss over your approach when you wake up each day…this is important. Your day should start with a “thank you” with the understanding that God gives us each day that we wake up. To be thankful has everything to do with your perspective about life itself. Everything that you do each day, including your communication with others in a work or non-work environment, centers on your attitude. Having a great outlook promotes a healthy interaction with others, while a negative outlook tends to keep you from interacting with others, if not outright repelling others away from you. The only ministry that can take place here is a negative testimony about believers.
Your attitude is on display each day. You don’t need to be perfect (that’s unrealistic). You need to be a human being, but also be different in how people see your smile often, and your positive perspective even more often.
6 Don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. 7 Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord.
Selfish attitudes and behaviors are commonplace today. While others are out for themselves, to be selfless and concerned for others is refreshing and seldom seen. You can draw others near to you when you show yourself to be selfless and caring for others.
4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,
6 who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.
Your attitude each day is just the beginning of your ministry of communication. Your next area for consideration requires a measure of focus on others:
Believers who are in service for Jesus are participants in the ministry of reaching people just like themselves. While no one is created alike, the people that we encounter each day have similar hopes, dreams, fears, concerns, tragedies and triumphs. It is the things that we have in common that help us to be able to reach others for Jesus Christ. When people see your genuineness and your ability to relate to who they are, where they’ve come from, and where they want to go, you have immediate credibility where you can share the gospel message at the appropriate time…but let’s also consider some important parts of communication that require attention.
Your interpersonal interaction. Your credibility in communication begins with your body, your posture and your method of addressing the other person with the appropriate tone. For example, if you are turned away from a person when he or she approaches you, do you take the time to turn and face the person, or only make a partial turn? Is your posture erect or are you slouching? Are you speaking in soft and reassuring tones, or do you come across as if you are being bothered with the interruption? Consider how you would feel if you received this type of negative feedback when you approach someone. It is also important to note that many people are often hesitant to approach others with personal questions or issues because of the perception that those questions are an imposition on the other person. A response of poor body language or a discouraging tone reinforces that same conclusion and will likely discourage any other opportunities for discussion. Your body language and conversation should always be inviting to the other person–no matter how busy you may be. It is very, very seldom that a person who approaches you will be completely sensitive to your sense of timing, but keep in mind that your ministry for Jesus Christ is not about your timing. It’s about His timing.
Your eye contact. This one is huge, everyone. Have you ever spoken to someone who cannot look you in the eye? The person is looking somewhere on your person other than into your eyes. Somewhere on your forehead? Your shoulder? Your chin? How did you respond? Don’t underestimate the power of eye contact in communication. Eye contact in communication reinforces your words with confidence in what you are saying. A lack of eye contact, no matter how sincere the words are, tends to diminish their impact. To be fair, successful eye contact is only making glances into another person’s eyes and holding it in place for a few seconds. It is not about staring the other person to a point of creepiness. If you believe you struggle with eye contact, you should consider practicing reading an article from a newspaper or a magazine to yourself in the mirror, and take your eyes off the material long enough to look into the mirror at yourself. This will help you to do a couple of things—practice your focus on the person you are speaking to, and also develop good habits of making eye contact that will build your communication credibility.
25 Let your eyes look forward;
fix your gaze straight ahead.
26 Carefully consider the path for your feet,
and all your ways will be established.
3. Allowing the Spirit to Speak Through You
This is not as obvious or as practical as it seems to be. Many people may get the first two areas correct but fail to impart the wisdom or information that God would have the person provide because of one thing getting in the way, and that’s pride. Before you get all puffed up about someone coming to you for advise or for being that go-to person, remember who put you in that position to reach others.
I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to be a helper for each of us to reach people. We reach others through the power and wonder of the Spirit who enables us to speak His words. He does His best work through us when we get out of His way. If we allow Him to work through us, we receive the additional benefit from His instruction and guidance in how we conduct ourselves each day.
25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.
4. Anticipate the Possibilities
To anticipate is to be prepared for the eventualities of a situation or circumstance and being prepared to take action when the time is right. The application in your ministry of communication is to be ready for anything. The first question that you may ask is “How can you be ready for anything?” The smart-aleck answer is, “You can’t really be ready for anything.” What you can do in anticipating the possibilities is to lay the groundwork for friendship first. Your ministry of communication includes a considerable amount of discussion about those things that show you to be a genuine person, and it’s not exclusively discussions about faith or church; in fact, it’s about everything else. Your anticipation is in the development of your relationship and ongoing prayer to God in allowing the Spirit to work as you learn more about the person you are interacting with.
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Your ongoing prayers will give you the ability to see God working in the situation, and to be able to anticipate every question and comment that will lead you to our final point…
5. Act in God’s Timing
There will be opportunities to speak the gospel message to others, but you need to be prepared for them and be ready to act according to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Even with your anticipation of the possibility of such a conversation, it can still occur very quickly when you may not expect it to. If you are in prayer continually and earnestly seeking God’s help in this area, He will always provide it and never let you down. When God selects the time, He will give you the words to say that will lead a person to make a decision for Jesus Christ.
I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
A quick recap of your ministry of communication reveals five components that help one to fulfill their abilities as a believer in Jesus Christ:
3. Allowing the Spirit
4. Anticipate the Possibilities
5. Action in God’s Timing
You don’t need to be the best communicator for Jesus…you just need to be your best to allow the Holy Spirit to use you in your new and ongoing relationships. Your ministry of communication is rooted in your kindness, thoughtfulness and a humble heart for others. Pray about how God will use you this week in your role of carrying out His Great Commission.
35 Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. 36 When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few.38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”
Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.