A few days ago while in a disagreement with one of my boys, we exchanged a few “pleasantries” that I don’t want to repeat for you on the internet. We both allowed our frustration to get the best of us. We escalated in anger and the content of what we shared was not kind. While writing this post, I have no idea what started our arguments, but I do know I wasn’t proud of how it all went down.
As we resolved our conflict with apologies and forgiveness, I actually had the thought that I was glad no one outside our family heard our words.
I mean, what would people think if a marriage pastor, who OFTEN challenges others to communicate in a biblical, God-honoring way, sometimes blew it? What if I didn’t practice what I preached?
I was reminded of a great story I heard a few months ago. You can read more about it in this post from Fox News, but the basic gist is that a husband and wife got into an argument when they were visiting some friends. They went into one of their friend’s bedrooms to resolve the disagreement. What they didn’t realize is that every word of their argument was broadcast to the rest of the home through the home family’s baby monitor. Their “private” argument was made public for the rest of the house to hear.
What if the arguments you had with your spouse was broadcast out for others to hear? What if your arguments were broadcast on Facebook live for all the world to see and hear?
Most of the time, I’d be okay with you listening in to what I say and how I interact with my family. But, there are other times when I’d be embarrassed for you to listen in.
What if your arguments were broadcast for others to hear?
1. Would they hear gentle words?
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
When we use harsh words, we make things worse. On the other hand, a soft, gentle answer helps resolve arguments.
Ask others: Am I gentle or harsh with my words and tone?
2. Would they hear humility or pride?
James 4:6b says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
My friend JP preached a great sermon on humility this past weekend. We can be more humble by overlooking our differences, intentionally taking an interest in others, and by looking to Christ’s example (See Philippians 2:1-5).
Ask others: Do you think I’m more characterized by pride or humility?
3. Would they hear a Christlike desire to understand and listen?
Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
Do you focus more on listening to others or making sure they hear you and you’re understood? Is it more important to win your arguments, or to understand?
Ask others: Do you think I really listen when we talk to each other? Ouch… not excited about this one.
4. Would they hear compassion and kindness?
Romans 2:4b says, “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.”
Matthew 9:36 says, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
My default is to often be short, mean (at times), and lacking in compassion. May we show the kindness of the Lord and the compassion of Jesus in how we see and treat others!
Ask others: Would others say you show compassion, kindness, and empathy?
5. Would they hear scorekeeping?
1 Corinthians 13:5d says, “love keeps no record of wrongs.”
When we keep score in marriage, we make a note of everything we do right and everything our spouse does wrong. Love, on the other hand, keeps no such tally. Rather, we rejoice when our spouse does something right and we’re quick to confess when we mess up.
Ask others: Is my love unconditional or do I tend to keep score?
Truth: Someone DOES know everything you say and think.
Do you realize someone hears every word you say and knows every thought you have? And in spite of this, He still offers you unconditional love? God hears all and knows all (See Psalm 139, among many other scriptures).
In your arguments with your spouse, kids, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, communicate in such a way that you’re not afraid for the world to see and listen in. Be gentle, humble, understanding, compassionate and kind, and keep no record of wrongs.
I could point to many other suggestions and scriptures, but instead I’ll leave you with one thought that captures it all. Will what you’re about to say and how you’re about to say it, build others up or tear them down? See Ephesians 4:29 and read this post for one other reminder.
What if people heard you talking through a baby monitor? What would they hear?
Which of the above five questions are you most challenged by? Encouraged by?
Check out the book A Lasting Promise by Scott Stanley. I’m on my 10th read through it right now and it continues to help me communicate and resolve conflict better. We encourage all the newlyweds in our church to read it!