Do you ever find yourself in an argument with your spouse, a coworker, or a fellow church member and realize that you’re arguing with a person from long ago instead of the person sitting in front of you? I do this sometimes, and it’s a habit that I’m trying to break. When someone starts to sound like another person that I’ve disagreed with in the past, I reflexively start treating them like the other person—not fully listening, but rather just assuming I know what they’ll say. That inevitably results in us both talking past each other and neither of us talking to each other.
Maybe you’ve experienced something similar. Do you think there is something we could all do to improve our communication skills and overcome these tendencies?
The answer comes in the form of one word, two Bible verses, and one piece of advice that’s become a bit cliche, but still goes a long way if we’re willing to put it to work.
The one word: listen. Listen intently and patiently and selflessly. Listen to the person’s words without judging any underlying motives. Listen with empathy; treat the other person as a person, not just a side to an argument. Listen for a way to reach agreement; not just for a way to “win.”
The first Bible verse: Proverbs 18:2. “A fool takes no pleasure in under-standing, but only in expressing his opinion.”
The second Bible verse: James 1:19. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…”
And the cliche piece of advice that still really goes a long way: “Seek first to understand; then to be understood.”
- Dan Lankford, minister (*personal note: this is an especially good reminder for me as a father who needs to listen more to his kids, which is why it was posted on Father's Day, 2019*)
The title “Everybody else is” is a statement too often heard from an immature child while trying to convince their parents to allow him or her to do what everybody else is doing, sounds familiar? Well sadly this attitude or line of thinking has led to the insurmountable number of religious denominations in the world as well as the reasoning some immature Christians use to justify crossing the boundaries God has set forth in his word.
We rationalize, “Everyone else is” going to that once in a life time party where we know sin may lurk.” “Everyone else is” wearing revealing or immodest clothing, justification, it’s the latest fashion. “Everyone else is” lying just a little bit on their taxes, justification, Uncle Sam won’t miss it. God told His people long ago, “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil” (Exodus 23:2). When everyone else was bowing down to the golden image king Nebuchadnezzar built and erected, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to do so. The result was they were cast into the fiery furnace, but the Lord was with them (Daniel 3).
We must very careful not to allow ourselves to be conformed to what everyone else in this wicked world is doing (Romans 12:1-2). God doesn’t want us to be different just for the sake of being different. We are to be different because we belong to a holy God whose ways are different than that of this world. My mom used to ask, “What if everyone else jumped off a bridge?” The fact of the matter is the path to destruction is paved with what “everybody else is”, doing. Only the righteous will find eternal life in heaven and everyone else is destined to eternal punishment (John 5:29).
- Kristopher Sanders, minister
Many have noted that if you follow the money, you’ll find out what’s most important to a person or an organization. That’s definitely an over-simplification, but it still has something valuable for us to think about. Namely, what value does your money have to you? How do you use it? How do you manage it? Or do you let it manage you?
The Lord intends for us to be grateful for what he gives us. The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that it is proper for us to enjoy God’s good gifts. And when the apostle Paul gave instructions for rich Christians, he told them not to set their hope on their riches, “but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (1 Tim. 3:17) The Lord intends for us to gratefully enjoy riches when he gives them.
But we must never depend more on our blessings than on the one who gives them. This is why, as Christians, we are to be wise with our money. As in all other aspects of life, we are to be self-controlled; always making deliberate choices, willingly denying some things for ourselves so we can instead serve God and others.
Our financial goals are to be able to provide for our own families (1 Tim. 5:8), to be able to give to others (Eph. 4:28), and to aid in sharing the gospel with the world (Phil. 4:10-19). Money is never an end in itself, but God intends it to be a tool in the hands of his people who would use it for his glory and for others’ good. That takes diligent attention, self-control, and a long view of living life God’s way. But in the end, it brings peace & contentment, and it gives glory to God.
- Dan Lankford, minister