How often do we interact with people who speak to us like we are still children? You know what I mean. Those people are still telling us how to live, what to wear, what not to do, what to believe in, and other stuff. They are full of correction without love or grace. I’ve found this to be particularly frequent within family or close friendship interactions. Perhaps you do this to others from time to time yourself? If you’re like me then you probably don’t respond very well to this type of conversation.
When people speak this way, it adds little to no value to the ones receiving it.
This is not to say that those who speak this way are bad people with ill intent, but in most cases this method of “command speaking” is a poor tool to communicate, causing a loss in the value of genuine love and concern.
The other day I was reading through 2 Corinthians and came across a great example of how Paul both recognizes and combats this type of instruction. Paul explains in verses 23 and 24 of the first chapter that he guards himself against such types of interaction with the body of Christ.
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Paul says in reference to his decision to not return to Corinth after receiving the news of their disobedience that: “The reason I didn’t return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke. But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.”
Paul recognized the need for genuine support in the church’s time of distress.
He didn’t satisfy his own desire to cast a harsh rebuke or command a change through asserting a severe spiritual authority over the believers in Corinth.
Instead, Paul uses encouragement, prayer, love, patience, personal sacrifice, and service to build up the brothers and sisters in Corinth so that they would learn to stand on their own knowledge and faith in Christ, not on a rebuke or on Paul’s faith in Christ. Paul, through patience and longsuffering with their immaturity, serves the believers and teaches them to grow in their own knowledge of Christ, for we have both a corporate and personal relationship with our Lord.
Paul says, “We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm” because he knew that each believer has to make up his/her own mind about following Jesus, but that the journey is one we all get to walk together.
If you associate with people who are still trying to dominate you by telling you how to live your life then I encourage you to consider this principle that Paul uses in his interaction with the Corinthian church. Decide for yourself whether to allow those words to affect your thinking.
God’s Spirit is the only true source of instruction and life.
We get to choose whom we trust to speak into our lives. Be very wise about whom you are allowing to influence you. If you find that you are the one who’s slipping into an authoritarian method of communicating to others then remember these two important principles. There are two important principles for healthy communication. First, your actions will always speak louder than your words. Second, when it comes to really connect with people, fast is slow, and slow is fast.