Archives for July 2007
The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choicest words lose their power when they are used to overpower. Attitudes are the real figures of speech.
~ Edwin H. Friedman
The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.
~ Rachel Naomi Remen
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
~ Mark Twain
Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.
~ Robert Greenleaf
Brevity is the soul of wit.
~ William Shakespeare
He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument.
~ William Shakespeare in Love’s Labour’s Lost
“And people laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?”
~ Anne in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables
Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Self-expression must pass into communication for its fulfillment.
~ Pearl S. Buck
This communicating of a man’s self to his friend works two contrary effects, for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in half.
~ Francis Bacon
Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
~ Rudyard Kipling
Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible; and don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.
~ Character in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion
They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
~ Carl W. Buechner
One kind word can warm three winter months.
~ Japanese proverb
Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
~ Ambrose Bierce
It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.
~ Larry King
The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades when speaking fails.
~ William Shakespeare in The Winter’s Tale
One can say everything best over a meal.
~ George Eliot in Adam Bede
No man is exempt from saying silly things; the mischief is to say them deliberately.
It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.”
~ Yogi Berra
The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.
~ George Bernard Shaw
What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.
~ Strother Martin playing the Captain in the movie Cool Hand Luke
Two monologues do not make a dialogue.
~ Jeff Daly
If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.
~ Woodrow Wilson
English is the perfect language for preachers because it allows you to talk until you think of what to say.
~ Garrison Keillor.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in picture of silver.
~ Proverbs 25:11
How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
~ Isaiah 52:7
Information is giving out; communication is getting through.
~ John C. Maxwell
The eloquent man is he who is no beautiful speaker, but who is inwardly and desperately drunk with a certain belief.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
In 1998, Oprah Winfrey flew my wife to Vermont to be her guest for a discussion of Chris Bohjalian’s book Midwives. Susan’s flight landed in New Hampshire where a chauffeur met her at the gate and proceeded to treat her like royalty. Well, … not really like royalty. It wasn’t that he treated her as an object of admiration, so much as he treated her like the most important person in the world to him at that given time.
Upon arrival at the Inn where Oprah’s guests would be staying, the Inn’s owners and staff greeted Susan and treated her as if she was the most important person in the world to them at that given time.
That evening the show’s producers dined with the guests and it was a lovely evening filled with conversation. These same producers had undoubtedly spent time with some of the world’s most influential celebrities, businessmen, and politicians. Still, they were genuinely interested in Susan’s ideas, opinions and her life back in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. They treated her as if she was the most important person in the world to them at that time.
The next morning limousines carried the guests to another Inn where the television show was to be filmed. Oprah’s producers met Susan at the curb and gave her a great deal of personal attention. They introduced her to other staff members and the crew each of whom treated her as if she were the most important person in the world to them at that particular time.
The lady who did Susan’s make-up had worked with the world’s most rich and famous. But, when Susan was sitting in her chair that woman treated her as is she were the most important person in the world to her at that time.
Everyone in Oprah’s organization treated Susan as if she was the most important person in the world — including Oprah Winfrey. When Oprah engaged Susan in conversation she looked her in the eyes, she listened, she asked questions, she cared. Oprah gave Susan 100% of her attention. It wasn’t just an act, this billionaire who personally knows presidents and kings treated Susan as if she was the most important person in the world to her at that time.
Okay, Susan met some really nice people. So what? What can the church learn from Oprah?
There is a reason that Oprah is one of the ten most influential people in the world. The reason has much less to do with her acting skills or business acumen than it does with the fact that she treats the person in front of her as if that person is the most important person in the world.
This aspect of human engagement was most perfectly illustrated in the life of Christ. When little children came to him, he treated them as if they were the most important people in the world. When he called Zacchaeus down from the tree, he treated him as if he was the most important person in the world. When he sat down with the woman at the well, he treated her as if she was the most important person in the world. When he sought and found the man who had been cast out of the synagogue, he treated him as if he was the most important person in the world.
God so loved the world that he sent his Son to tent among men and reach out to them as individuals. Christ’s mission was large in scope, but he fulfilled it by treating each individual as if he were the most important person in the world.
My love for my own family is boundless and for my friends it is immense , but because we are called by God to live in the present moment…
- when I am teaching I must care for my students and consider them each to be the most important person in the world to me at that moment.
- when I am meeting one of my children’s friends, I must consider that child to be the most important person in the world to me at that moment.
- when paying a clerk for gasoline, he must become the most important person in the world to me at that moment.
How would your church be different if everyone was treated as my wife was treated by the folk in Oprah Winfrey’s organization?
How would your life be different if you started treating the person with whom you are immediately engaged as if he were the most important person in the world to you at that given time?
Men and women belong to different species, and communication between them is a science still in its infancy.
~ Bill Cosby
See women need to talk because they feel like they have to have adequate levels of communication in order to sustain a healthy and open relationship, whereas men are only driven to speak because of matters beyond their control, like not being able to find clean socks.
~ Danny McCrossan
The following texts are being used in Westminster Theological Seminaries class on New Testament Interpretation: General Epistles and Revelation during the Summer ’07 semester:
New Testament Interpretation: General Epistles and Revelation
• To introduce the particular character of Revelation and the General Epistles
• To enable students to understand these books so that they can apply their teaching to their own lives and in their ministry
This course will deal with questions of special introduction, and will include the exegesis of selected passages in order to establish the structure and distinctive themes of these books.
“Very foolish it is to use the wrong word to a stranger; for though the heart may be clean of offence, how is the stranger to know that? He is more like to search truth with a dagger.” (Rudyard Kipling, in Kim)
This week I engaged in a lengthy conversation with a new acquaintance. He shared with me that he had spent months as a candidate interacting with a pastor search committee and just as he was preparing to make the move to this new ministry he received a cold letter indicating that he was no longer being considered.
He was shocked and inquired of a friend who was “in-the-know” about the reason for the sudden termination of the relationship. As it turned out, the candidate had asked a question of the committee which had been misunderstood as a signal that his intentions were not pure. The church had previously had a “bad experience” with a church staffer and that experience was now part of the context within which estimations of an individual’s character were calculated.
The man with whom I was speaking was heartbroken. He thought he was asking a simple question to gain information but his intentions had been misunderstood by those with whom he was seeking to establish a relationship.
I think that most of us have had similar experiences in which a question or statement was horribly misunderstood.
Last semester I was teaching a class on The Words of Jesus of Nazareth. Several class sessions were devoted to learning from the manner in which Jesus used language as a conduit for Truth. Context was an important part of our discussion and for purposes of illustration I asked my students, “What does it mean if I say ‘I sure would like a cup of coffee.'”
Most of them looked at me as if observing an idiot.
“It means you want a cup of coffee.”
I went on to share the many contexts in which one might utter such a phrase.
If said when I am laying in bed with my wife on a Saturday morning it probably means, “I wish you would get up and fix a pot of coffee.”
If said by a young man bringing his date home after a pleasant evening out it might mean, “I wish you would invite me inside for awhile.”
If said while driving late at night it might mean, “I am so tired that it is getting dangerous for me to drive.”
If said while drinking a bitter generic coffee blend it might mean, “I wish I had a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain rather than this stuff that is called coffee.”
If said by someone counting out change it might mean, “I don’t have enough money for coffee, I wish you would give me fifteen cents”
If said to a spouse when out of coffee beans it might mean, “I wish you would go to the store.”
If said to a roommate who used up the last of the coffee beans it might mean, “You are a selfish pig who thinks only of yourself.”
I could add another dozen or so things that might be meant by the statement, “I sure do wish I had a cup of coffee.” However, I think the above is sufficient to drive home the point that context matters.
My wife Susan is a cast member for the The Promise. She tells a story of going backstage to find the Director grabbing the arm of the first-season actor playing Jesus and yelling at him, “I’ve been through this with you before! How many times do I have to tell you?”
She was stunned.
But then the director and actor immediately went back to a normal conversational style. What she had thought was a fed-up director venting on an actor with whom he was frustrated turned out to be a director illustrating an attitude that he wanted the actor to adopt in a particular scene. What she thought was anger turned out to be instruction.
We must not fail to consider context in our communication; deep context as well as immediate setting. We all know this because we have all been misunderstood. But, a little reminder will do no harm. In fact, we would probably all benefit from having someone follow us around to repeatedly shake us and say, “I’ve been through this with you before! How many times do I have to tell you?”
My mother was diagnosed with diabetes this week. According the American Diabetes Association there are more than twenty million Americanw with the disease and than six million Americans who have it but do not realize it.