What would life be like if we couldn’t speak? Try to imagine a world where nobody speaks — your thoughts immediately jump to other forms of communication. We think of gestures, hand signs, facial expressions, hieroglyphics and ideograms but all of these are still language. It’s impossible to be human without communication.
Because communication is a frequent extension of our minds it becomes almost like air. We just assume all is good unless we are struggling to get enough oxygen or can’t see the mountains from industrial haze. But having a better understanding of air lets us do things like fly airplanes…
What can we understand about communication that might help us?
A great book I first read while completing my masters in organizational leadership might assist us. Quentin Schultze’s book, Communicating for Life approaches communications from a valuable perspective that is holistic and God centered.
Shultze lists four functions of communications:
Our Creator wants us to become God-listening communicators.
God’s gift of communication enables us to co-create cultures, or ways of life.
Communication enables us to co-create life-giving community.
God created us all to be stewards of creation who use the gift of communication to care for the world.
Communication is internal and external (myself and others), spiritual and natural (God and creation).
Egdar Schein, in his work, Humble Consulting says the consultant’s best skill for helping people arrive at solutions requires empathetic and curious listening. When the Spirit of God hovered over the waters at Creation, before shaping the chaos, I imagine this was meditative listening to the future possibilities.
If we do not hear (take time to perceive) others, we do not know what to say in a way people can hear. If people don’t feel heard by us, it is challenging to get them to listen to our perspective. Listening is the speedway of communication.
Shultze believes God-listening communicators are needed. This is powerful because we should all have a prophetic edge, a presence of heaven in our words. To do this we must first know the Voice of God ourselves.
The word “co-create” indicates an active dialogue between us and God. We communicate God’s heart to the world in a way that shapes it. A culture is a system of meaning, what we create communicates depth, or lack thereof. “The word communication comes from the Latin communis, which means to share, to make common, or even to have ’possession of a common faith.’”
Consider the surge of global connectivity tools and simultaneous digression into loneliness. Use the humble power of listening before speaking. This humility allows us to reflect the values of Father God’s heart which is critical in uplifting culture. Can you think of a more pivotal juncture in current history than now?
Whether we believe there is a world of abundance or a world of scarcity, most of us should agree that good stewardship of our world reflects our gratitude for creation and our care for the rising generations. Children growing up today see pictures of rapid deforestation of rainforests, including loss of tens of thousands of undiscovered plants and teeming creatures. They watch the destruction of reefs, are wooed into unchecked consumerism, and hear of global elites and totalitarian control of critical resources like waters and minerals. They can’t help but see this all as a communication from us about their future. About our value of their future?
“God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees, flowers, clouds and stars.” — Martin Luther. Are we stewarding this living book of good news for the rising generation?
SUMMING IT UP
Ideas are shaped by words and words inspire actions. What we speak consistently will influence the values of a rising generation. They reflect how we steward God’s creation, on how we live from a heart of peace. Words create our pathways for deeper or shallower community.
The root meaning supporting our word culture, is the agrarian idea of cultivation. It comes from Latin’s past participle stem of colere, “to tend, guard; to till, cultivate.” This is very similar to Eden and our initial assignment, “and Yahweh God took the man and set him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to keep [watch over] it” (Genesis 2:15 LEB).
Our words cultivate and watch over our culture —our systems of meaning.
Our words cultivate community (society) —our systems for practicing meaning.
Our words steward the shalom of creation —the ecosystems that reflect God’s goodness.
Our listening to God’s words capacitate us —as his humble ekklesia who communicate his heart to the world.