If you heard someone described as a powerful person, you might assume he or she would be the loudest person in the room, the one telling everyone else what to do. But powerful does not mean dominating. In fact, a controlling, dominating person is the very opposite of a powerful person. Powerful people do not try to control other people. They know it doesn’t work, and that it’s not their job. Their job is to control themselves.
These – and many other words – are used to describe God’s great communication skills. He answers, asks, assures, calls, commands, declares, directs, explains, instructs, mentions, orders, promises, replies, responds, reveals, says, speaks, swears, tells, warns, etc. All told, God’s great ability to communicate is mentioned nearly 3000 times in the Bible! No one communicates more abundantly than God. But are we listening? Are our radios tuned in? Do we need to posture ourselves, like Samuel, to hear with a servant’s heart?
You can start practicing the skills of assertive communication by paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and needs and respecting their value. Then start doing the same for other people. Check yourself when you are tempted to invalidate someone’s experience or heart. Listen to understand in a conversation—especially to understand what a person is feeling and what they need.
When people quit talking to God, they quit talking to one another. And people who quit talking to God soon get very lonely and depressed. They are actually lonely for God, hungering for communion with Him, yearning for His close love and nearness; but instead of recognizing these needs as spiritual, they blame their lack of fulfillment on their husbands or wives.
Some of the most hurtful, difficult relationships… have had some of the most dramatic impacts on maturity and spiritual growth in my life. Without them, I may never have discovered some of the attitudes of pride, vindication, self-justification, and self-righteousness that I was full of. They helped me see how opinionated I was and how important it was for me to be right all the time in order to prove my self-worth!
It is no one else’s responsibility to avoid my triggers. It is not the government’s responsibility to redesign the nation so I don’t get triggered. It is not a business’s job to make sure they don’t say anything that triggers me. It’s not my spouses’ responsibility to walk on eggshells so I don’t blow up. It’s not my kid’s responsibility to behave in such a way I don’t go off on them. It’s my responsibility to make sure I don’t have bullets loaded in my heart so no matter what happens around me I respond in a healthy way.
Learning to hear when there is no crisis is good practice for when we are under fire and need urgent help.
Until you commit to the goal of connection, all the relational tools in the world are not going to help you. It’s only when you decide to take responsibility to pursue connection that you will discover just why you need certain tools. It’s only when you commit to moving toward someone that you will seek the knowledge and skills necessary to reach them.
Revival looks like family; family is messy. Generations working together can be tense, and it’s not easy. There might be tension in it, but without tension, you can’t make music because if you take the tension out of guitar strings, the guitar can’t sing.