All Relationships require “small amounts of effort every day to nurture the bond,” Relationships do not have to be as challenging as the world would have you believe. When you let the love of God lead your interactions with other people, you actually simplify your relationships. This is not to say that you won’t have challenges, but when you apply the principles of God’s word you’ll be more equipped to handle them. It’s no secret one of the keys to managing your relationships is effective communication. It is by far one of the most important tools for cultivating growth and building fruitful relationships.
Communication is defined in the dictionary as “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.” Although communication is not just an exchange of words, the primary way we communicate with others is through our conversation. That’s why it is so important that you master effective communication by knowing what to say, how to say it and when to say it. Often you will see spouses in conflict because of careless words that were spoken, or statements that were made at the wrong time.
When choosing your words, remember that timing is everything. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” The Bible makes it clear that being an effective communicator means being able to discern when someone is in a position to receive what you have to say. For example, it does no good to lecture or complain when the person you’re speaking to is already agitated or in a bad mood. You will be more successful if you pray and ask God to show you when to have the discussion or share whatever is on your mind. He will let you know the best time, place and manner in which to proceed.
We use communication to define our relationships. Your conversation with God has all of the qualities and characteristics of a deep meaningful communication between two people. God said to the prophet Isaiah, “Come now, and let us reason together” Isaiah 1:18. This image of God and man sitting down together to have a conversation may just be our best image of great communication.
Communication with God ultimately establishes and deepens our relationship with Him. The purpose of communicating with God is that we might know Him better, experience more of His love, and have an abiding awareness of His work in our lives. Simply talking to God doesn’t build the relationship. However, communicating with God requires both speaking and listening.
Sharing your thoughts and opinions is important, but effective communication is so much more than merely sharing. You can communicate your love for others by being a good listener also. Everyone wants to talk and get their point across, but how willing are you to listen? Listening involves being attentive and understanding. A good listener should also be an active listener, or one who quickly acts on what someone else shares. Active listening demonstrates that you honor others enough to not only consider what they express to you, but also that you plan to do something about it.
There is an art to effective communication. Your goal in communicating with other people should be to impart information with honest, straightforward words. Ephesians 4:15 says, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” Truthful words are the most powerful words you can use when it is done with gentleness and respect. Whether you are giving praise or constructive criticism, telling the truth in a loving and non-threatening way makes all the difference. Lying should never be an option. Even when you are concerned about hurting the feelings of others, it is still better to tell the truth than to shade or exaggerate your feelings in any way.
Learning to lovingly communicate takes time and practice. But you can be sure that you will have plenty of opportunities to work on it. Begin right where you are with friends, family, on your job and above all in your own home. We have all been challenged in this area at times, but learning to speak words of love and encouragement is critical to maintaining an atmosphere of peace in your life. Good communication is the key to experiencing abundance in your personal relationships.
A relationship with God, of course, is very personal. In fact, given an opportunity it is the most intimate relationship you will ever know. Nobody knows you or will ever know you like God does. Nobody loves you like God loves you. Nobody desires good for your life more than God…not even you.