If your senior pastor, team
members, or parents just don’t seem to hear what you’re saying,
I recall one of the more embarrassing and unpleasant experiences
I’ve had in ministry–all based on a communication gaffe. I sent
off several rapid-fire emails to a volunteer I was working with on
my church staff as I attempted to wrap up an important project.
From my standpoint, I simply aimed to deliver a strong final
product, so I didn’t spend time wordsmithing my emails. But what I
didn’t realize was that the volunteer felt I was questioning his
abilities and commitment to the project.
What ensued was a lot of unnecessary
conflict. In retrospect, I saw that the divide between us was
largely due to the differences in our communication styles. That
situation gave me pause to consider how even subtle missteps in
communication can have far-reaching effects in ministry.
One of the most difficult–and most important–lessons for any of
us is the impact our communication choices have on all our human
interactions. In ministry, those communication choices can have a
long-lasting impact, possibly even eternal ones. If you’ve ever
felt discounted after you thought you’d communicated clearly or
wondered why you can’t seem to effectively resolve an issue without
alienating others, you may be making communication
So whether you’re meeting with parents,
speaking with leaders, addressing staff members, or even asking for
a raise, learn from these practical pointers to be an effective
communicator when it matters most.
Assess Your Motives
Always evaluate your intentions before you approach the person. To
assess whether you have good motives in setting up the
conversation, ask yourself these questions.
• What’s my main reason for having this
conversation? If you don’t know, how will you gauge the
effectiveness of the encounter?
• What’s my expected or desired outcome? Reflect
in prayer on whether you’re taking any negative feelings into the
meeting, and deal with those issues before you bring someone into a
• Am I looking for outcomes or simply venting?
Determine this before the meeting-not while you’re in the midst of
it. And consider postponing the conversation if your goal is
nothing more than venting–it’s always best to go in seeking
Pastor Joel Osteen is fond of saying, “You can’t unscramble eggs,
so be careful before you stir things up.” How true that statement
is. If you can answer each of the above questions, you’ll have a
personal check of your attitude and position before you engage
someone in a serious discussion.