Communication Begins with Trust
The dictionary definition of communication is: “A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.”
How many of you have found that in real life the definition reads more like this?
Reality: “A process by which information is confused by individuals through a conflicting system of emotions, behaviors, backgrounds, and desires.”
Have you ever been talking with someone, say your spouse or your child, or a coworker or a close friends and Communication seems to be going very well? Then the “wrong word” slips out of your mouth and all of a sudden things go nuclear. We’re in the middle of an argument before we even know it. And things were going so good.
Communication is not easy. When you get right down to it, communication is not a science, it’s more of an art. Jesus has some things to teach us about communication. We can learn from his own words and from his example. If you read the gospels and pay attention to all the conversations that Jesus had with people along the way we come up with three or four lessons Jesus constantly lives out before us.
Jesus teaches us that the foundation of communication is trust.
In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus said,
Matt 5:37 Just say a simple, “Yes, I will,” or “No, I won’t.” Anything beyond this is from the evil one.
Jesus tells us we must say what we mean and mean what we say. We cannot have high-quality communication without high-quality trust. With great trust there can be great communication. With little trust there is little communication. With no trust there is no communication. If I cannot trust what you say, it really doesn’t matter how eloquent the words are.
Jesus says, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’” Trust is built on these two tiny words—Yes and No. Every parent knows this is true. Remember when your kids were little and you’d come home after a tough day at work. And they hit you with, “Daddy, can we do such and such tonight?” When you said, “Okay” or “Sure” or “Sounds Fun” your child heard, “YES!” loud and clear. If the yes is changed later to a no, it doesn’t matter what the reason is, you broke a promise and trust is broken. Right? As a parent every word we say, every action we take, has an impact on our children. Often in ways we don’t even see or understand.
These are the ways we erode trust with our words.
We all lie. Everybody lies. I try so hard to never, never, never tell my kids a lie. I want them to know they can at least depend on Dad to tell them the truth. But the truth is we all lie.
Flattery is just a positive lie designed to increase your standing in another person’s eyes. Because flattery uses another person’s need for acceptance against them, it is a manipulative lie. We’re not talking about looking for the best in others and finding a way to encourage them. Flattery is when you lie about someone’s skills or actions for the purpose of personal gain.
Prov 26:28 A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattering words cause ruin.
I can’t believe how prevalent this is in Christian circles. One of the things I’ve seen over the years is people committing to doing something, sometimes even signing a contract and everything and then thinking they can break their commitment just by saying, “Well, God is leading us in a new direction. God is telling us to do something different.” It’s all too easy to use God as an excuse for a broken promise. Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.”
We cannot have high-quality communication without high-level trust. What if the trust is no longer there? How do you rebuild trust after you’ve told a lie or lies, or broken a lot of promises? Rebuilding trust always takes a combination of trust plus time. Building a foundation of trust is hard work, and rebuilding a foundation of trust is even harder and takes even more time. But it can be done. And it’s worth it.