Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Family And The Holidays

Grace Flavored Communication
By Clint Byars, Forward Church Ministries

Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming! Many of you will be around family and friends that you only see this time of year. What a wonderful opportunity to flavor your communication with grace.

For some of you it's a joyous reunion, for others...not so much. Most people are in the middle, we enjoy seeing friends and family but we find ourselves biting our tongues in conversations. Family has the capacity to bring out the best and worst in one another. I'd like to give you a little encouragement that just might make this season a time of love and healthy connection.

We've all been hurt. Jesus said it's impossible to never be offended. It's gonna happen. Our responsibility is our response. We can adopt the victim's mentality, we can harden our hearts and not let people in, we can rise above the offense and be an avenue of healing, we can judge people and wallow in pain ... the options are endless. I want to help you let go of pain and enjoy effective communication this season.

Colossians 4:6 - "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Our communication should be:

Full of grace
Seasoned with salt
So you'll know how to answer

GRACE is unmerited favor, it's a divine influence on our heart and it brings a capacity greater than our own. God says I favor you, I love you and I want what's best for you so I will influence you and lead you into the best that I have for you.

So if our conversation is to be full of grace, our conversation should always be empowering. Grace shows favor toward its receiver. Grace seeks the best for the object of its affection. Grace leaves one empowered.

Our communication can do all of these things. We can communicate in a way where the other person has a voice in the matter, where that person has power to speak. Grace filled communication doesn't condemn or condescend, it elevates and invites the other person to express their heart.

Grace brings the other person up to the same level of importance in the conversation and listens. Grace filled communication ultimately leaves the other person with a say-so in the conversation.

Too often with our children or family members we just disseminate information and call that communication. When we're just voicing our opinions or forcing our will we are not empowering the other person. God never forces His will on us, we're always left with a choice. Does your communication leave people with an invitation to respond and a choice?

SALT preserves and adds flavor. Our motivation in communicating, especially when resolving conflict, should be preservation. We must lead with grace and seek to preserve the context of the relationship. If we throw out all our hurt and resentment we're not seeking to preserve the friendship or marriage. If we force our opinions and never express value or love toward a person, we're selfishly unloading our emotions with no motivation of leaving that person in a powerful position before us.

Salt adds flavor, salt ties the foods together, salt adds that factor that takes that dish over the edge. Too much salt can ruin a dish but just enough can be the element that is satisfying. If we add salt to our grace filled communication, we're engaging our hearts and emotions in the conversation. Salt conveys value in a conversation because it seeks to reach an understanding between all parties involved.

GIVING ANSWERS is the last component to effective communication.

What's wrong honey? Nothing
Are you sure? Yep
You seem upset. Well if I have to tell you then something is really wrong!!!!!!

Those aren't answers. A grace-filled answer seasoned with salt seeks to preserve and empower the other person. We may find ourselves in situations where we've judged the other person and decided they should know what we're thinking but that's not grace with salt.

Grace with salt gives honest, truthful answers that empower the listener to respond accordingly. Too often because we're hurting we limit our communication because we're upset. This person may have legitimately hurt us but if we desire to preserve the relationship it's our responsibility to communicate. I admit it can be very difficult to lay down anger or offense and open our heart to the person who hurt us but if we want any hope of resolution we must communicate.

Communication empowers, preserves and answers honestly. If we stick to these guidelines we will fulfill Jesus' commandment to love one another and display love to the world at large.

I go into much more detail on how to let go of pain in my recent messages.  Click to listen.

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