2017-10-17 - Replace Document
Some years ago, I was working as receptionist at a large Atlanta church. We had a pretty sizeable group of volunteers, and since I had started as a volunteer, the Senior Pastor's Secretary asked me to put together a Volunteer Orientation / Training booklet. Every day, between visitors and phone calls, I would excitedly work hard on it, until it eventually reached 10 pages. This was before "Windows," and I was a neophyte when it came to WordPerfect©. One day, I did something to garner the question "replace document?” That was a very frightening thought to me. I thought it was asking if I wanted to delete the entire ten pages. So I hastily said no! Imagine my angst when I realized it had done the opposite of my wishes, and deleted the entire document! I couldn't believe it. Obviously I didn't think like the creators of that program. We tried to recover the booklet, and I have a friend that I didn't know yet, who probably could have saved it. But if there were a way to do this, none of us in the office knew how. I was devastated. I lost all that painstaking work - with one little keystroke. So I had to start completely over, from the beginning. It was quite frustrating and discouraging. To quote the movie "Cool Hand Luke," "What we've got here is a failure to communicate."
Communication failure causes SO many problems - in so many areas, from friendships to marriages to churches to community relations. One person says something, and another hears something entirely unlike what was meant. There are a myriad of reasons this happens. Sometimes the misunderstanding is based on a previous bad experience of the listener; other times, it is because they have heard falsehoods so often that they start believing them, and it affects their reception of comments. And sometimes, it is because the hearer is just having a bad day.
A husband says he is worn out, and what a wife hears is "he doesn't care about my day." (No, that wasn't me, but it could have been any of us!)
A friend is feeling depressed and turns down a lunch invitation, and the other friend takes it as rejection, when it really has nothing to do with him or her.
A person of one race says something about an issue and for him or her, it has absolutely nothing to do with race but rather deep personal convictions about the issue - but is taken as being race-motivated by the other, because there is so much inciting of hatred out there in the atmosphere nowadays, and making much of things that really are said innocuously, with a well-meaning heart.
Each one of us has probably been on both sides of this equation. We all need to be careful about what we say, and we also need to be careful about making assumptions before we have listened carefully and prayerfully, with our hearts. The Stephen Ministry© has a guideline that Stephen Ministers should talk 10% of the time and listen 90% of the time. It would behoove all of us to follow this rule, wouldn’t it? This, of course, is easier said than done.
It would be prudent for each one of us to heed the instructions in James 1:19 (NASB)This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.
One thing that would help, is if we were to pray that God would guide our words, and help us to see people and issues through His eyes. We need to see for evil what He sees as evil, and to see as good what He says is good. Proverbs 6:16-19 is a good place to start, for that. And it also wouldn't hurt to send up a prayer if / before we respond in a heated conversation. I encourage you to join me in doing this, this very week. I hope you all have a blessed week.
All verses are from the New American Standard Version (NASB) unless otherwise noted.