Scenario 1: You are teaching a Bible lesson, and a student responds to a question with an answer that is not only wrong, but outrageously wrong.
Scenario 2: You are leading a small group of 14-year-old young men after the Bible lesson. One young man comments about how much he hates his parents’ rules concerning the movies he watches.
Scenario 3: During family devotions your child interrupts to say how bored he is.
How would you respond to the student or child in each scenario? Would your response be permeated with grace-filled truth and biblical wisdom? Unfortunately, we have probably all fallen short at times of communicating in the above manner—at least I have! With that in mind, I really appreciated the post, “7 Ways to Grow in the Art of Communication,” by Dr. Joel Beeke (Ligonier Ministries). Here are a few key excerpts from the article:
- We should draw out the thoughts of others. Communication involves not just talking but drawing out the thoughts and feelings of others…Good communication is not a monologue; it’s a dialogue. We don’t talk to our children; we talk with them.
- We should let our conversations be ruled by the wisdom of Scripture. We need to be careful not to replace God’s wisdom with man’s wisdom. For example, we need to call a sin a sin and call a lie a lie…Our children need to recognize that we think biblically, speak biblically, and act biblically without cramming religion down their throats.
- We should use discernment in what we communicate. Sometimes we overload our children with teaching. We should take care not to load too many issues on them at once…
- We should speak respectfully…There are times when our voices can show more earnestness, emphasis, or concern, but we should refrain from yelling. When we reprimand a child, it is far better to say: “I love you very much but I am disappointed in this behavior. This is not what God wants from you, and you know it.”
- We should show genuine interest and warmth…We need to make a conscious effort to tell our children how much we love them.
- We should show gratitude for the things they do…We should let the “attitude of gratitude” permeate our homes. It should permeate everything—our conversation, our activities…
- We should make eye-to-eye contact…We should strive to make eye contact when we communicate with our children to make sure they are getting our message. Good teachers know the value of eye contact in the classroom.
Although written specifically for parents, his main points are also applicable when communicating to children and youth in the classroom—although how each is applied may, and sometimes should, look different in the classroom setting. I highly encourage every parent and children’s and youth ministry volunteer to read the entire, short article here.
(Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)