- (Photo: CJ Rapp)
Unity. There is great power in being of one mind. In fact, it was so important to Jesus that in John 17:22-23 he prayed:
"The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." (NASB)
Perhaps this is why that out of all the enemy's tools we must make sure to guard against division. Division destroys friendships, families, ministries, churches, and businesses.
Communication breakdowns are often at the root of division. If difficult conversations are avoided or not handled with care, misunderstanding may lead to someone taking offense. In our electronic age, instead of talking things through, many of us find it easier to send a text, or turn to Facebook or Twitter to vent opinions and frustrations. The aftermath is often a hopelessly broken relationship and our witness for Jesus (love for one another) becomes tainted.
How can we communicate better? My advice from mountains of mistakes: listen more, talk less! When you don't understand or are confused about something that was said, believe the best and ask clarifying questions. Clarifying questions give people the opportunity to process what they are thinking out loud. Some examples of clarifying requests are:
• Tell me more about that…
• Explain that to me…
• Play that out for me…
1. Remind us we don't all share the same brain. Each of us brings our own experience and baggage into situations. Don't assume to know what someone else is thinking.
2. Remind us not to assume we know what someone is feeling. Asking questions gives us a glimpse into the heart – "out of the heart the mouth speaks."
3. Give us a better understanding of one another.
4. Create intimacy.
When asked to clarify:
1. Respond in love! Someone is seeking to understand you better. They are acting in love.
2. Respond honestly. If you are not honest about why you said or did something, or about what is really going on, you can't grow in intimacy.
3. Respond without suspicion. Don't read into the question. Trust that someone wants to know you better! Defensiveness fuels division.
The truth is that we can be different, sometimes very different, and still have strong relationships.
Understand that UNITY is the environment in which the Spirit flows so it must be protected. Knowing each other better and leaning in instead of running away is the way we defeat the enemy's tool of division.
Commit to believing the best. Commit to examining every thought and its origin. Refuse to react in defensiveness and resolve to examine your own motives. The Scripture says …who knows the heart of man? Only God can truly know a man's heart. (Jer.17:9-10a), so ask him to give you understanding of yourself. Commit to growing in love, unity, and a better understanding of one another. Embrace the discipline of asking questions and let's grow together in love, and then let's marvel at the way the Lord uses our love for one another to encourage others!
CJ Rapp is a women's minister, author and founder of Trash the Lies conferences. Upcoming conference: TrashTheLiesLV.EventBrite.com #TrashtheLies.