How to be Heard

This has been on my mind following a handful of recent choices our government and country have made. Crimes have been committed. People have gotten hurt. People are confused about what “getting hurt” actually means, and what “freedom” stands for, and words are cheap for their abundance. Furthermore, and slightly less contextually, the Bible is pretty clear that what comes out of our mouths comes from who we are at root- from our hearts. (Matt. 15:18) That is to say, if you are saying anything, anywhere – that speaks to who you are. We need to know how to do that right. So here’s the thing (or the simplified version of the thing): There are billions of people. There are billions of people talking. There are billions of people talking about things they know and/or believe, which amounts to, ultimately, so much NOISE, and so little communication. Everyone talks, and no one listens.

Listen.

Through Paul, God says, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up into love.” (Eph. 4:15)

I hear three commands in that phrase, “Speaking the truth in love,” which Paul says will allow us to grow into Christ… that we might build one another up in love. (Everyone’s crazy about love right now, right?? Peace, love, and donuts… or something like that.) Cautious extrapolation follows posthaste:

1) Speak the truth. This is a brief and to-the-point reminder that the Church is not called to be silent. In fact, I think the opposite is true. We’re a mouth for the only voice worth listening too. And HEY – it needs to be the Truth as well, you half-caf “not sure how I feel bout some of those Bible parts” Christians. You’re dancing in the mine fields, as the poet Andrew Peterson once said in an entirely different context.

2) Speak the truth in love. Dear blog reader, avoid bologna. Bologna is gross, it smells bad, its spelling is terribly deceptive, and among other things, it smells bad. (Yes, I said that twice. And it’s gross.) Why do I warn you about bologna? Because, to the degree that I can, across this iPad, this internet, and this anonymity- I love you. I’m not going to lie to you about bologna. Neither should you, to the people you love.

3) In love. Gosh, does this matter. To begin conversations or Facebook posts, “To all of you idiots who-” is to fail as a speaker, a representative of the Church, and certainly as an evangelist. Whups – the only audience that matters just left out the back. Throwing the truth in the faces of the unknowing is almost as good as throwing rocks, except with rocks, the scars might heal up in a couple weeks. God’s Word is brutal enough on its own.

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Empty Words :: “Like, I totally just…”

Photo Credit: silviakusada.wordpress.com

“I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

You can not afford to employ pointless words, artists. Because you have an audience. Your mouth is the door to your temple, and the words that come out between your teeth reveals what is between your ears. You are not empty. There’s a message that you were made to tell, and not only tell, but live. Do not dishonor yourself by distracting those who are willing to listen to you with empty words.

What do I mean by empty? For example: Out of the last ten PG-13 movies I have seen, at least five could have been changed to PG if the swearing was removed. And more often than not, the words were completely pointless. What do you think, Hollywood? Is it your crazy (and, if I may be so bold, unreasonable) need to be hip that causes you to shake groups of ten to twelve year-old boys out of your viewing rooms for action movies, proverbial water off a duck’s back, with language that doesn’t even fit the scene? “Let’s go for a bike ride. ____.” And it bothers me, because there’s nothing for Samuel Jackson to even be swearing about in this scene!

Empty words are artless. Filler-words in a conversation. (See “The unnecessary ‘really.’“: “Hey, Kev! I got a new bike!” “Really?” “Well, yeah, Kev. Why else would I be telling you?” “Oh, right. Seriously, though?”) Really. Just. Very. Totally. They mean absolutely nil when used this way. Their purpose is to tell me that what I just said is what I just said. To which my only response, with an awkward smile, is: “Great, dude. But I already knew that.” :-)

The average attention span online of an internet user is 8 seconds. That gives them about enough time to read/hear, “Like, I totally just went to this really great-” Ding. Out of time. And they’re off to the next post, or the next speaker, looking desperately for someone who is bold enough to say something, and what’s more, not to say nothing. Or, you write something captivating. And they stay. And they think. And they come back. You deserve that. So make it happen. Use words that matter. Until the next…

Learning to Speak :: Purpose, Tact, and Fewer Words

Photo Credit: blog.cmpsamurai.com

You know what I love about Do you know what’s great When was the last time you Thank goodness for backspace, and strike-through. Backspace, without you, my writing would be (figuratively) toast, (metaphorically) stuck in a rut, and (literally) chalk-full of errors. God has blessed me with an ADD mind that sometimes gets ahead in producing and lags a bit in thinking. And I praise Him for you, little black backspace button.

Speaking, though, is an entirely different matter. You know this if you’ve ever been asked to speak in front of any group of people; from 3 to 300, it makes no difference.There will always be something you wish you could have tweaked, or re-phrased, or not said at all. Because you’re human, and being human are, as a part of your nature, a little bit off, or a lot off. You need to be tweaked.

Here is how the tweaking happens. (And mind, this post is as much a reminder to me as advice to you. :-))

1. Speak about things that you care about, if you have the choice. One of the worst speaking mistakes you can make is to walk into a conversation about things you know nothing about and start flapping you lips. To be honest, when you do this to me, I’m not really thinking Huh! This guy sure has a lot to say. That’s great! Behind my false interested smile, I’m probably thinking Huh. This guy sure has a lot to say about nothing. I wish he’d let someone else speak up.

“If you can’t do, you’d best shut up about it.” –Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain

2. Think through what you are going to say before you say it. You’ve heard this a million times. I’ve heard this a million times, about seven hundred fifty thousand of which came from my fed-up elementary school teachers. That does not make it any less true. Wars have been started from angry, foolish words that, if only pondered upon for a second, may have been withheld. There is a right and wrong time to speak each thought that enters your mind, and it’s best to realize which before you do so.

“To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” –God, Proverbs 15:23

3. Read through a thesaurus. The bigger and more words you can manage to use, the better. Is it not better to say “Dear one, of whom I was first birthed, I find that now I have a pressing need to relieve myself in a private fashion,” than simply “Mom, I’ve gotta’ go”? No. No it isn’t. Though there is a place for soliloquy and run-ons, it is generally better to say what you mean, and only that; To forget the ribbon and frosting and just go for the main point. There are thousands of people who will tell you, “You are just sooo fantastic and you write really well and I love the way that you do what you do and…” and only a few who will tell you “You’re writing is great. I’m honored to know you. Keep up the good work.”

“If you want to ensure clearer communication, cut the clutter out of your message by saying what you mean to communicate in as few words as possible. If you want your message to be clear, say what you mean to say using fewer words. If you want to be clear, communicate with fewer words. To be clear, use fewer words. Use fewer words.” –Joshua Skogerboe, “Less noise means more signal :: Be direct”

Speak with purpose, tact, and few words, and you will be applauded. Speak unintentionally, rudely, and with many words, and you will be shushed. Until the next…

When have you spoken poorly, and what would you do now if you could change it?