Friday, December 4, 2015

Communicating Effectively

Meeting a goal is something that always makes me feel great, especially when it’s for God.  However, I have to say that my pride and vanity haven’t always taken a back seat when it comes to things “turning out good.” 

I remember when a “certain person” finished a project that he had been working on for some time.  Standing in front of his masterpiece he made this statement, “Look what I did.”  The mental pointing finger of “How can he be so prideful and vain?” popped into my head almost automatically.   

It wasn’t long after that event I found myself thinking the same way when I finished directing a play, but as a “good” Christian I didn’t say it out loud. 

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Oh, that Nose, that Beautiful Nose! 

Did Santa’s statement to Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer come to your thinking when you read this sub-title?  I thought it would, and so I was effectively influential in what I set out to have my readers do. Was this an honest way to communicate a message in order to get you to continue reading, even though it was effective?  One might go as far as saying it was a little prideful for me to think I could influence people like that.  

My intentions weren’t really to draw your attention to a red nose, but rather to a statement about a nose. Isn’t it something how we can manipulate thoughts by our words?  Well, that’s what happened when someone said two words to me and it had nothing to do with noses. 

Image by anne.sullivanmovies
Anne of Green Gables is a big thing in our house. We love watching the films, and my husband and I have our favorite parts about each of the movies. 
 
Like most couples we have codes or phrases that make us laugh, but there are also some theatrical lines that help us keep those prideful moments in check.  One of them is from a scene with Anne Shirley when she was having a conversation with her best friend Diana and Diana’s rich Aunt Josephine. 

The three ladies had returned to Aunt Josephine’s house after a rather ritzy luncheon where they heard opera singer Madame Selitsky sing “Non mi dir, bell’ idol mio”, a song from the Mozart opera “Don Giovanni.” 

There was some chit chat about their afternoon when the aunt asked Anne what she thought of city life and the high society crowd.  Then the girls exchanged criticisms with Anne leading the way. 

Anne: Madame Selitsky had a definite alabaster brow, Diana. 

Diana: Did you see Alice Bell there, parading around like she had an alabaster brow? 

Here comes the zinger …

Anne: If I had Alice Bell’s crooked nose, I wouldn’t … Oh no, I shouldn’t have said that.  That’s uncharitable.  I was comparing it to my own nose and that is vanity. Someone complimented me on my nose long ago and I’m afraid I’ve thought about it far too much ever since.”  

Getting a compliment on a job well done is fine, and should be rewarded, but when you’ve “thought about it far too much” that’s when pride and vanity have overstepped their bounds in the life of a believer. 

As you’ve gathered that happened to me a few weeks ago, thus this article!   

Top Influencer 

It wasn’t a big deal really, or it shouldn’t have been, but I took it seriously and “I’m afraid I’ve thought about it far too much ever since. 

Someone had remarked online that I was a “top influencer” and I have to say I kind of liked that.  As a matter of fact, I liked it so much that I saved it to my email.  When I was sharing the glorious moment my loving, devoted husband willingly flagged it, totally taking me down with the line from the movie.  Busted! 

To be fair I did question what and who I was influencing (after stepping off the enormous ego cloud).  Was I really making a difference?  I was getting excited that I was about to reach one million views on my social media sites and questioned … “why?”  Tons of people have reached that and millions more. Why were people checking out my articles or sites?  Was I making a difference or was it what they call “stumble upon it” traffic? 

Effectiveness 

Around the time this happened I was studying the book of Philemon. Why is a good question to ask right here, but I’m sure the Lord knew I’d be living this lesson shortly. I’ve read this rather short letter of Paul’s dozens of times. 

I can’t say I’ve actually “studied” it to some depth; after all it's only one chapter.  How much can there be to study? (You won’t share that confession with my Bible instructors right?) 

It didn’t take me long to stop reading and focus on the opening verses of the single chapter.  At night I read from my electronic Bible and the setting is on large.  When you view the scriptures only two lines show up at a time. 

What I’ve noticed over the years is when reading like that specific words or phrases jump off the screen. When that happens I pause and ask the Holy Spirit what’s going on that I need to grasp in that passage. This is what I was reading and how it looked on my electronic Bible screen. (Philemon 1:1-7 KJV)

Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow labourer,

And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in thy house:

Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,

Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;

That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother. (Philemon 1:1-7 KJV)

I got so excited about verse six that I spent three days contemplating it and going over the sentence in my mind.  The words that showed on my Bible screen were “that the communication of thy faith may become effectual.” 

Often the word communicate in the Bible refers to giving financially, and we know Philemon did that. However, that’s not what Paul was saying in this particular passage. He told Philemon that he prayed that the “communication” or “fellowship” of his faith would become effective in the lives of other believers by the way he showed his faith outwardly through good works. 

So, does being influential mean we have been effective? If so, what are we or who are we “effecting” (and affecting) with our influence? 

Is This Correct? 

Wanting to make sure of what I believed this to mean, I cross referenced and combined the phrases (not to change or take away from the scriptures, but for comprehension and teaching purposes) from several lessons and translations, including Greek.  This is how it reads in plain language:

Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, Hearing of your love and faith, which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;

And I am praying that the communication (fellowship sharing) of your faith may become effectual (effective; put into action) and powerful by the acknowledging (accurate knowledge as you understand and experience) of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

For we have great joy and consolation (comfort and encouragement) in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by your kindness, brother Philemon. (emphasis mine)

Effective Influencer 

Although this New Testament book/letter discusses forgiveness of a master to a slave when Onesimus becomes a Christian, the Lord was revealing something more. 

What God was showing me is that He wants His children to be effective in the way they influence others, and even shows favor to those who actively share their faith in Him.  When we testify about what we believe and why we believe the way we do, we are acknowledging that we have an accurate understanding of Who Christ is and what He did for us on the cross. 

If we are to become effective for Jesus, we have to have influence over those who God puts in our path.  Not the kind of influence in the way that we force people to do things, but in the way we influence their decision to become a Christ follower. 

Rather than thinking about how influential I’ve been, I started wondering how effective have I been in sharing my faith.  When people read my articles or materials, are they comforted, encouraged or refreshed by my loving kindness as Paul said Philemon had been?  It’s something I need to think about every time I put “pen to paper.” (Yes, I still use a journal notebook.) 

In other words, have I communicated effectively in the way I present the gospel through the message of faith, belief and God’s favor? 

When we make mention of one another in prayer do the words hearing of his/her love and effective faith which he/she has toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints” ever cross our lips?  If not, then perhaps we’re not top influencers after all. 

This Week’s Challenge:
Communicate Effectively  

In sharing his faith in Jesus, Philemon communicated effectively.  This refreshed and encouraged his brethren in the Lord. By doing these “good works” the Lord showed him favor in business, along with causing him to become influential and effective for God.

Our challenge would have us look at the people in our lives that we are influencing by answering these seven questions about our own behavior. 

1 - Are we top influencers for ourselves or for Christ?   

2 - Is pride behind our thoughts that we’ve given way too much attention? 

3 - Are we effectively sharing our faith in the way our testimony encourages or enriches the lives of those God puts before us?  

4 - Does the way we influence cause God to bestow favor on us so that we can be effective vessels for Him? 

5 - Have we communicated (fellowshipped) effectively by encouraging and refreshing other believers so that they in turn will do good acts of kindness? 

6 - Have we made it clear that every good thing in us is because of Jesus? 

7 – Have we acknowledged Jesus is the One who lavishes favor on those who believe in Him? 

Let me reiterate … have I actively communicated effectively in the way I present the gospel through the message of faith, belief and God’s favor without being prideful or vain? I hope so ... even if it comes with a bit of humor. 

The next time someone pays you a vanity compliment (maybe even on your perfectly shaped nose) or acknowledges something wonderful you have done, don’t fall into pride by reflecting way too long on the adoration.   

Accept the praise with grace and thanksgiving, because it was the goodness of God who gave the power through His favor. 

In future, may we all become top influencers as we communicate our faith in Jesus Christ effectively, so that the hearts of others will find great joy, be encouraged and refreshed. 

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 Until next time, God’s favor is effective! 

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“My favor is communicated effectively on active believers.”
Jesus Christ 

Note: The words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives.
Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

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by Charles Swindoll

Individual message from the series: Can One Person Make A Difference?

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Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy. 
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provided by Gateway Bible
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.
Image:  Look by beafunmum  Influence by socialmediatoday  Paul scroll by overviewbible
Anne of Green Gables Script by Sullivan Entertainment, Inc.
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