By Irvin Himmel
We could not know what pleases God and what violates his will if there were no communication from him. He has “revealed” by the Spirit the things of God (1 Cor. 2:10-13).
The ability to communicate effectively is a mark of leadership. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, spoke meaningfully to the hearts of Americans in the depression years. His “fireside chats” carried live across the nation by radio struck responsive chords. My aged Grandmother Melton admired Roosevelt as a speaker. President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, gained the reputation of being the “great communicator.” He expressed himself with clarity and persuasion.
To communicate is to impart, transmit, or convey knowledge or information; to reveal or make known so that others will understand; to notify or apprise; to disseminate facts or ideas. We transmit and receive thousands of communications daily. These communications relate to many facets of life. Stop and think of the importance of communication.
1. Communication is essential to our having the proper relationship with God. We could not know what pleases God and what violates his will if there were no communication from him. He has “revealed” by the Spirit the things of God (1 Cor. 2:10-13). That which was a “mystery” (something hidden or concealed) was made known to the apostles and prophets by the Spirit (Eph. 3:1-5). By reading what inspired men wrote we gain understanding. God has not left us to guess what his will is, nor has he left us to direct our own footsteps (Jer. 10:23). Through the Scriptures the information we need to obey God is conveyed.
2. Communication is critical in marriage. Some husbands and wives are so busy pursuing their individual careers that they are seldom together. Instead of developing understanding, they grow apart. Or, a husband and wife may get angry or become peeved over something. They do not talk freely. Instead of communicating with each other about their finances, likes and dislikes, in-laws, sex, work situation, or whatever problems they have, they refuse to talk. When communication breaks down, real trouble is on the way.
3. Communication is crucial in the parent-child relationship. An exasperated mother wrings her hands and exclaims, “I just can’t talk to Mary these days.” Previously Mary had shouted to her mother, “Don’t preach to me; just take me to the mall.” A barrier has come between mother and daughter. Words and acts which convey understanding are blocked. Until communication is restored there will be a strained and unpleasant relationship. Teenagers often speak a language of their own. Parents may have difficulty in understanding the emotions of their youngsters. Older people can lose touch easily with the younger generation. Good parents look for ways to communicate with their offspring. Father and mother must be willing to listen. Above all, parents must communicate to their children by example and word so as to train them in the admonition or instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:1-4). Godly parents are never too busy to discuss with their children whatever problems they have.
4. Communication is necessary in converting the lost. Despite the strained relation between Jews and Samaritans, Jesus engaged the Samaritan woman at the well in conversation. He talked to her about the water of life, worship, and his being the Messiah (John 4). Philip arrested the attention of the Ethiopian by asking, “ Understandest thou what thou readest? ” This question led to the opportunity of opening his mouth and preaching to the Ethiopian about Jesus. And that led to the Ethiopian’s confessing Christ and being baptized (Acts 8:30-39). There are numerous ways of communicating gospel truth to the lost. Some can talk on a one-to-one basis who could never preach a public sermon. The essential thing is to find a way of arousing interest and imparting knowledge of the word of God.
5. Communication is vital when saints assemble to worship. A brother who is asked to lead prayer should speak slowly, distinctly, and with adequate volume. Others cannot say “Amen” unless the leader communicates his thoughts. One who talks so low that he cannot be heard is not “leading” prayer. He is merely praying privately while others are straining to hear. One who stands up to make announcements must be able to communicate. Some mumble and stumble, fail to check their information beforehand, and do not express themselves clearly. Misunderstandings result.
6. Communication is highly important in public preaching. The task of every preacher is to preach the gospel. He must present the message in language which his hearers can grasp. It is very easy for one who is thoroughly familiar with the Bible to shoot over the heads of people who have never studied God’s book. In his choice of words and illustrations, the preacher should strive for simplicity and understand ability. He must remember that his aim is to impart information concerning the word of God, to stimulate interest in righteousness, to challenge to nobler living, and to lead people through sound teaching. He must, “Preach the word . . . reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). Some preachers are more effective in communicating to some audiences than to other audiences. There are preachers who are better at exhorting and motivating than impart- ing knowledge. The personality of the preacher, his style of presentation, his speaking ability, and other factors influence his power as a communicator.
7. Communication is indispensable in reconciling and restoring. “Moreover if thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault . . .” (Matt. 18:15-17). That directive cannot be carried out without communication. “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. “That calls for more communication. “And if he neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church . . .” That necessitates communication to the church. “But if he neglect to hear the church . . .” That implies communication by the church to the offender. “Let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” The instructions in Galatians 6:1 to restore one overtaken in a fault demand communication between the spiritual and the one who has stumbled.
8. Communication is compelling for elders as overseers of the church. Problems arise when elders fail to keep the church informed. What information do elders need to communicate to the flock? Why do elders neglect to communicate as they should? How may the overseers best communicate with the church? These matters will be explored in an article to follow.
Remember that communication is vital. Even in ordinary conversations we sometimes fail to speak and listen carefully. All of us occupy roles that necessitate clear expression and transmission of thought. Poor communication can bring painful consequences.