Summary: Using James 1:19-20 let's improve our communication (Material adapted from Wayne A. Mack's book, Strengthening Your Marriage, unit 4, Good Communication, pgs. 55-65, 68-74)
A judge was interviewing a woman regarding her pending divorce, and asked, "What are the grounds for your divorce?"
She replied, "About four acres and a nice little home in the middle of the property with a stream running by."
"No," he said, "I mean what is the foundation of this case?"
"It is made of concrete, brick and mortar," she responded.
"I mean," he continued, "What are your relations like?"
"I have an aunt and uncle living here in town, and so do my husband's parents."
He said, "Do you have a real grudge?"
"No," she replied, "We have a two-car carport and have never really needed one."
"Please," he tried again, "is there any infidelity in your marriage?"
"Yes, both my son and daughter have stereo sets. We don't necessarily like the music, but the answer to your questions is yes."
"Ma'am, does your husband ever beat you up?"
"Yes," she responded, "about twice a week he gets up earlier than I do."
Finally, in frustration, the judge asked, "Lady, why do you want a divorce?"
"Oh, I don't want a divorce," she replied. "I've never wanted a divorce.
My husband does. He said he can't communicate with me."
The most important earthly relationship we have is our marriage covenant. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24, NIV. Can two people become one flesh without a good communication system? Hardly! A married couple’s experience of genuine oneness will be determined by the health of their communication system. Apart from their conversation with God, nothing is more important to the development of genuine oneness than effective communication and conversation between husband and wife. Going to focus my comments for marriage and the family but everyone needs to get something out of this. Any relationship is dependent upon communication. Communication is the basic skill needed to establish and maintain sound relationships.
Thesis: Using James 1:19-20 lets improve our communication
Wayne Mack says, “Good communication is a two way street involving free, open conversation and careful, attentive listening.”
Let’s start with careful, attentive listening “quick to listen, slow to speak”
In most marriage relationships, one person is talkative and the other is quiet. The struggle for the talker is to stop talking and listen to the other person. The struggle for the quiet one is to open up and talk. Communication is a two way street. Conversation involves both the sending and receiving of a message. Without both, communication is impossible. These instructions in James are for the more talkative but need to be applied by everyone.
“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” Proverbs 20:5, NIV. Every individual has something to share, but some people have difficulty sharing those insights. They have water, but it seems to be so deep within them that it cannot be reached. How do we prime their pump? We will never get the water out as long as we talk on and on. We will get it out when we are willing to stop talking and start listening. Many quiet people will suddenly become great talkers when they feel like others are interested in what they have to say. Good listening is to communication what a magnet is to iron or a siphon is to a gas tank. This has drawing power. This gets the conversation flowing.
Practical things about good listening:
1. Good listening involves letting the other person speak without interruption. “He who answers before listening--that is his folly and his shame.” Proverbs 18:13, NIV. Many husbands and wives ought to be ashamed, for they constantly interrupt one another when they are talking. When one is interrupted consistently, effective communication grinds to a standstill.
2. Good listening involves giving the other person our undivided attention. “Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!”” Acts 3:4, NIV. Whenever possible we should stop whatever we are doing and concentrate on what the other person is saying. Another aspect involved in giving the other person our full attention is guarding against the temptation to tune the other person out either because we do not want to hear what they are saying or because we are thinking of a good response when they stop talking. When we are only interested in defending ourselves, or wanting to crack a joke, or straighten the other person out, they sense this and this will shut down productive communication.
3. Good listening is making sure that we understand what the other person is saying or thinking. People often heard the words of Jesus and thought that He meant something that He never meant. Jesus Christ is history’s best communicator. Yet people misunderstood Him and misquoted Him. Let that be a warning to us as we listen to others. What we think they mean and what they do mean may be two different things. Fairness demands that before we put the worst possible interpretation on what someone says, we ought to do some checking. Perhaps if we do not like what someone has said, we need to think that we have misinterpreted him/her. Essential to the whole communication process is the necessity to try to see things from the other person’s point of view. To see things from the other person’s perspective requires repeating what he/she has said back to them until everyone is satisfied that we do understand. Or this may involve asking him/her kindly to say this in a different, exaggerated or expanded way until we are sure that we understand.