A Look at the Heart #6 – Real, Authentic Communications? Really!

09 May

but-god-looks-at-the-heartTake a Moment to Listen
Take a moment to listen today To what your children are trying to say;

Listen today, whatever you do Or they won’t be there to listen to you.

Listen to their problems, listen for their needs, Praise their smallest triumphs, praise their smallest deeds;
Tolerate their chatter, amplify their laughter, Find out what’s the matter, find out what they’re after.
But tell them that you love them, every single night, And though you scold them, be sure you hold them;
Tell them “Everything’s all right; Tomorrow’s looking bright!”
Take a moment to listen today To what your children are trying to say;
Listen today, whatever you do And they will come back to listen to you.

Jesus had a remarkable way of getting beneath the surface with people, of cutting through the small stuff to get to real, authentic conversation.

He also did it without prying or making the other person feel uncomfortable. If we pay attention, we might learn how to get past “the news, weather, and sports” in our conversations.

Levels of communication
John Powell’s book Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? suggests that when we communicate, we do so at certain levels of openness and self-disclosure.

1. Level Five – Cliche conversation. This is the safest and most superficial level of communication, little more than a ‘warm-up’ for real conversation. Here the words and subjects are very predictable: “Hello, how are you?” “Just fine, thanks. And you?” “Fine.” And so on…..

2. Level Four – Reporting facts about others. Conversation at least gets more interesting here, but there is little risk of self-disclosure. “I noticed the Smith’s roof is being repaired.”

3. Level Three – My ideas and judgments. Here real communication begins…no longer playing it safe…I venture out to display my thinking for others to hear and accept (or reject). I now become vulnerable to criticism or rejection of my opinions. “I think you might be right, but what do you think about this….?”

4. Level Two – My feelings and emotions. At this level I show others not only my head but also my heart. At what has been called the “gut level,” I disclose what is most important to me by communicating what moves me.Here I reveal heartfelt spiritual convictions. “I’ve never felt happier than when….” “I was furious when…” “My faith is real to me because…”

5. Level One – Peak communication. This is a very special and mature level of sharing myself with others. Here I am most honest, most open, most vulnerable. Here marriage partners and best friends become trusted listeners with whom the deepest joys, fears, and struggles that need expression can be shared. “I have this sin in my life…” “My biggest struggle is when…” “My greatest dream is…”

Getting People to Open Up
A famous psychiatrist was leading a symposium on methods of getting patients to open themselves. The psychiatrist challenged his colleagues with a blatant boast: “I’ll wager that my technique will enable me to get a new patient to talk about the most private things during the first session without my having to ask a question.” What was his magic formula? Simply this: He began the session by revealing to the patient something personal about himself — a secret with which the patient might damage the doctor by breaking the confidence. However questionable we may regard the doctor’s manipulation, it had its desired effect: It released the patient to talk.

Dr. Willard Harley in his book entitled His Needs, Her Needs points out the priorities of the sexes in the order of importance:
A man desires:
1. Sexual fulfillment

2. Recreational companionship
3. An attractive spouse
4. Domestic support
5. Admiration of his wife

A woman desires:
1. Affection

2. Conversation
3. Honesty and Openness
4. Financial Support
5. Family Commitment

Dear Ann Landers:
My husband doesn’t talk to me. He just sits there night after night, reading the newspaper or looking at T.V. When I ask him a question, he grunts “huh, or Uh’huh.” Sometimes he doesn’t even grunt uh’huh. All he really needs is a housekeeper and somebody to sleep with him when he feels like it. He can buy both. There are times when I wonder why he got married.

Openness is essentially the willingness to grow, a distaste for ruts, eagerly standing on tiptoe for a better view of what tomorrow brings.

A man once bought a new radio, brought it home, placed it on the refrigerator, plugged it in, turned it to WMS in Nashville (home of the Grand Ol’ Opry), and then pulled all the knobs off! He had already tuned in all he ever wanted or expected to hear. Some marriages are “rutted” and rather dreary because either or both partners have yielded to the
tyranny of the inevitable: “What has been will still be.” Stay open to newness. Stay open to change.

Children of low self-esteem (something extra)
Studies have shown that the child who has the lowest self-esteem is the one who isn’t permitted to say anything at the dinner table. The one with the next lowest image of himself is the child who is allowed to dominate the conversation. Highest on the list is the youngster whose parents tell him, “Yes, you may speak up — when it’s your turn.” –Dr. Joseph Bobbit, child psychologist

Why Is It Difficult To Communicate at these deeper levels? We are afraid…plain and simple. A recent survey listed “afraid to speak in public” as most people’s greatest fear, and often the same fears that grip us in public speaking tend to be the same ones that inhibit healthy communication in our relationships.

We fear being misunderstood. We fear looking foolish. We fear rejection. John Powell put it this way: “I am afraid to tell you who I am, because, if I tell you who I am, you may not like who I am, and it’s all that I have.”

This insecurity CAN work in our favor, spiritually! These fears and insecurities can help us cling to the good news of a faithful God!

Lamentations 3:22: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”

Hebrews 13:5-6: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” {6} So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?””

Daring to be vulnerable. Note the words of Paul and how he made himself vulnerable to Christians through his correspondence:

1 Corinthians 2:1-4: “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed  o you the testimony about God. {2} For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. {3} I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. {4} My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,”

1 Corinthians 12:7-10: “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. {8} To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, {9} to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, {10} to another miraculous
powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.”

2 Corinthians 6:11: “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.”

2 Corinthians 6:13: “As a fair exchange–I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.”

C.S. Lewis wrote: “To love is to be vulnerable, and the only way to make sure your heart will never be bruised or broken by love is never to give it to anyone. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers…of love is hell.”

The example of Jesus
The ultimate vulnerability was the incarnation of God in Christ. Think of it: The Creator rubbing elbows with his creatures!

What if Christ had not been willing to be vulnerable? Look at the risk He took! But the fact that He did come to earth gives us some special insight into how He was able to relate to people.

Philippians 2:5-8: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: {6} Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, {7} but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. {8} And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!”

A Conversation at the well (John 4)
1. He noticed her.
Is this too obvious to mention? We often squelch the possibility of good communication by not even seeing the people around us.

2. He prized her uniqueness. He didn’t allow her categories (woman, Samaritan, sinner) to prejudice him against her. He saw a uniquely precious lady…Jesus accepted people.

3. He asked for her help. He broke the ice “Will you give me a drink?” and most people respond to a simple request for assistance. Jesus let people serve Him.

4. He talked about what was important to her. Water! It had brought her to this place many, many times….and it’s a basic need of each person. Jesus used as a point of contact a subject he knew might interest her. “Where can you get this living water?” she asked.

5. He kept the conversation on track. Jesus kept the conversation at a significant personal level and didn’t allow her to “use scripture to avoid truth.”

6. He revealed His identity. He earned her trust with his acceptance and interest and was then able to reveal Himself fully to the woman “I who speak to you is the Messiah” (John 4:28).

Getting beneath the surface. If you want to get serious about getting beyond small talk and chatter:
1. Encourage others to talk about their interests, opinions, and feelings. Learn to be an encouraging listener. Develop and demonstrate a deeper interest in others.

2. Learn people’s names when you first meet them. My name is an important part of who I am. Others are flattered when we make the effort to remember.

3. When you encounter defensiveness in others, do not attack it: “What’s the matter, are you afriad to be open and honest?”

4. Create opportunities for unpressured conversation in comfortable settings. Let people know you want to be with them. “How about something to drink?” “Let’s go for a walk.”

5. Always keep a confidence. Respect others’ vulnerability when they open up to you. Nothing discourages vulnerability like gossip.

6. Don’t be argumentative. When others start revealing their personal opinions and feelings, you won’t always agree. You can state differing views without trying to win the conversation.

7. Admit to others your faults, needs, and fears. Some Christians think it’s unspiritual to admit any weaknesses or struggle. But genuine transparent persons (David, Jeremiah, Paul, and Jesus) have always been more attractive and credible than those who wear masks of religious perfectionism.


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Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Marriage


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