Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Importance of Communication

Every Thursday, I post a leadership lesson on the ZoneGathering, our online community for NCC small group leaders. Sometimes, I double post that article here. This week, we begin a new series on the topic of communication.

The Importance of Communication
A few weeks ago, I made a pilgrimage to Disneyworld. Yes, a pilgrimage. You laugh, but I am partly serious. You see, my favorite part of Disneyworld is EPCOT Center. Yeah, that’s the park everyone else hates. But I love it because it’s the place where God fueled in me a love for science and technology. It’s the spot where I had an unexpected encounter with God in the 7th grade and decided to study biological engineering in college.

As I journeyed through the greenhouses of the Land Pavilion, I was transported back through time and space and was reminded in a powerful way of the faithfulness of God in my life. Although I no longer draw my paycheck from doing that stuff, I still love it. And it’s part of my DNA and the path that God led me down to get me to where I am today. But that really has nothing to do with what I want to talk about today…

One of my favorite “rides” at EPCOT Center is “Spaceship Earth.” It is the most famous visual element in EPCOT- the big golf ball at the entrance. As a kid, I thought the point of the ride was a sort of time machine. You enter the “vehicle moving at the same speed as the platform to your right” and take a journey back to the caveman days. The car then transports you to ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, into the modern era, and beyond. As a kid, it was a fascinating trip through history.

But now that I’m older and actually listen to the ride narration and comprehend the story it’s telling, I realize that this ride is not so much about history as it is about the development of and importance of communication. In fact, that’s the underlying message of the entire EPCOT complex. Whether we are advancing technologically in Future World or building cross-cultural relationships in World Showcase, communication is the glue that helps us grow as a people. The message of EPCOT is that communication is key to progress.

I learned the importance of communication in a very personal way during the trip, as well. There were 5 of us on vacation together- my husband Ryan, Ryan’s 11-year old brother Josh, my parents, and me. Because some of us love roller coasters and some of us love It's a Small World, there were certain times when we decided to “split up.” My parents would go ride Dumbo while the rest of us would go ride Space Mountain. Cell phones were critical to the entire trip. From coordinating flight arrivals to checking on reservations to reconvening after Dumbo and Space Mountain. I kept thinking, “How in the world did we do Disney before cell phones?” Communication was key to maximizing our vacation experience.

But looking at things critically, I’m not sure if technology has made us better communicators or worse communicators. Sometimes, I think that technology has made us faster communicators but not necessarily better communicators. Some of the worst communication I have ever seen has occurred over email. People slap stuff on blogs that they would never print in a book. Text messaging provides an outlet for quick but thoughtless transfer of thoughts and emotions. We live in an age where communication is easy but often ineffective. Rather than communicating well, we just contribute to the white noise.

The Scriptures speak often about how we use words and interact with one another.

They speak about the power of words: "Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." (Prov 15:4)

They speak of the value of words: "
Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies." (Prov 20:15)

They speak of the source of words: "
For whatever is in your heart determines what you say." (Matt 12:34b)

Good communication skills are essential for any leader. Over the next several weeks, we will explore different types of communication. We will explore what Scripture teaches about how we should use our mouths. We will talk about 360 Degree Communication-- with God, with those in authority, with other leaders, and with those you lead. We will establish guidelines about both written and spoken modes of communication. We will share ideas on how to communicate in specific circumstances-- communicating change, communicating in conflict, communicating in confrontation, communicating encouragement.

If there are specific communication topics you would like to see addressed, please use the comment thread or shoot me an email.


At 11:26 AM, Blogger Elaine B said...

In Way of the Heart, Nouwen says that "words ... have lost their creative power. Their limitless multiplicaiton has made us lose confidence in words."
We no longer consider the twofold power of silence: silence in a conversation, which can create the space for someone to confess a sin or experience an epiphany, and silence in our own lives which contributes to our language by vitalizing the words we do choose to speak.

At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Mark Rodriguez said...

Girl you are an amazing communicator. Bob and I were talking about you the whole time we were up there... mad props!


P.S. Soarin' Rocks!

At 8:24 AM, Blogger Bob Franquiz said...

You're not alone...

I love EPCOT too!


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