One of the biggest challenges in relationships is to communicate clearly. Often one of the biggest problems in marriages is a lack of clear and loving communication. As pastors, communication can be challenging also. We do our best to be clear, but the message in our hearts does not make it all the way to the hearts of our people. First, let’s consider some of our problems.
One issue I have experienced is that my head is not able to express well what is in my heart. I cannot think of the words to say. Part of that is my quiet personality. I am not one whose words just flow forth from my mouth. I often have to think carefully in order to get my words out right. I have often thought that there is a disconnect somewhere between my brain and my mouth muscles. I now realize that some of this is personality, but it does affect the expression problem. I am not a person of many words as far as oral communication goes.
How can I overcome this problem? My actions will speak louder than my words. When I cannot think of the words to say, what I do can be a powerful way to communicate. If someone is suffering or if there has been a death, the best way to communicate is with the ministry of presence. My body language may communicate more than any words that I say. Being careful about how I act can be just as important or even more important than any words that come out of my wife.
Another second issue is that what I say does not communicate what I intend. It might be that the choice of my words is not the best. Sometimes I may use big words. I have worked on my enunciation, but I may slur my speech or not be loud enough for people to hear me. All of these are factors. Somehow I need to get the message from my head to the head of another person.
I have found working with people who do not understand English well that if I restate things in different words, people can better understand what I am saying. Repeating something can be helpful. Asking for feedback may indicate that the message has been communicated, such as, Do you understand what I mean? Or, what does this mean to you? Asking questions can be a great way to dialogue with people. Give them the opportunity to express their ideas. Being a good listener is part of being a good communicator.
Another third issue is that the words I choose are not the best or clearest. It is obvious that some people are not good communicators. Their vocabulary and grammar are difficult to understand. Or, their enunciation or accent may be difficult to follow. Working on our communication skills can be helpful for ministry.
I have found that as I have done more writing over the years, I am better able to express my thoughts in words. When I type a page or two every day, I . Writing is one form of communication but is different that speaking. Writing gives me time to reflect and choose the right words to say. I can always go back and change them. Speaking is challenging because once the word leave my mouth, it is gone. Therefore, I must choose my words wisely and carefully.
One last issue I want to point out is that what I say is not always what people hear. This may not be my problem but the listeners’. Some people are poor listeners. They either talk too much and never stop, or their minds wander and they do not give proper attention to the one who is speaking. This can be frustrating to the one who is doing the talking.
What can we do? We can develop patient. It might be that there is more going on for the other person than we realize. We can strategize on what is most important. Often preserving a relationship is more important than trying to communicate a certain thing. Like a pressure vent, it may be helpful just to let the other person let his or her steam out.
All in all, being a good communicator is a skill that can be developed. It is something we can practice and learn about. It will greatly enhance our ministry among people.
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