A woman showed up for her appointment with a lawyer and got right to the point—“I want to divorce my husband.” To this the attorney replied, “Do you have any grounds?” She answered, “Why yes, we have a couple of acres.” The puzzled lawyer then said, “You don’t understand. What I want to know is do you and your husband have a grudge?” The lady answered, “Actually, we don’t, but we do have a nice carport.” At this, the lawyer shook his head and said, “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but I just don’t see any reason why you should divorce your husband.” The woman looked at him and said, “It’s just that the man can’t carry on an intelligent conversation.”
Marriage isn’t the only place where unclear communication can cause problems. It also happens in the community. Two farmers were talking in front of the bank. One remarked, “I hear that you made $60,000 in corn.” His friend replied, “Well, that isn’t quite right. It wasn’t me, it was my brother. It wasn’t corn, it was soybeans. It wasn’t $60,000, but $6,000. And he didn’t make it, he lost it.”
Business expert Peter Drucker estimated that 60 percent of all management problems are a result of faulty communications. A leading marriage counselor says that at least half of all divorces result from faulty communication between spouses. And criminologists tell us that upwards of 90 percent of all criminals have difficulty communicating with other people.
Unclear communication is a problem throughout society and, sadly, it often causes trouble in the church. Misunderstandings often lead to pain and confusion. That’s why the Scriptures urge us to strive to communicate clearly.
James 1:19-20 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
People often get this wrong. Very few are good listeners. Many, instead of listening to the other person, are mentally rehearsing their response. Then they are quick to speak, rather than taking time to think through what they want to say. The result of poor listening and rash speaking is that somebody gets angry, and then all kinds of bad things start to happen.
In order for good things to happen in the church, we have to strive to communicate clearly. It starts with being a good listener and continues with giving thoughtful and helpful responses to what the other person says. Then, “…speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:15-16).