While conducting a homicide investigation where a Hispanic female was stabbed to death, I brought in her husband for questioning. I had him sit inside an interview room equipped with video recording cameras and advised him of his Miranda rights. After alerting him to the cameras, I stepped out of the room and watched him via a television monitor. He began to rub his head and chest; his body language telling me that something was bothering him. After a few minutes, I went back into the room with a cup of water. I sat closer, offering him the cup and told him that it appeared something was bothering him. I placed my hand on his shoulder and said that the only way to relieve the pressure in his head and chest was to tell me what was causing him such pressure. He immediately dropped his head and began crying, and said, “I didn’t mean to kill her.” He confessed to the homicide as I attentively listened to everything he said. Afterward, I charged him with the homicide of his wife. To my surprise he thanked me for listening to him without interruption. He said, “Now I can sleep in peace.”
During my twenty-three years in law enforcement for the city of Camden, New Jersey, I learned that communication is not merely transmitting information to others, but it is also being open to receive from others what they are conveying. Communication is a two-way street where ideas, needs, plans, and vision travel from one person to another. To be a good communicator, you have to be a good listener.
A good listener:
- must be engaging and attentive
- never interrupts
- always has follow up questions
- is patient
- shows interest in what is being said
- listens more than they speak
In that homicide case, I had to listen with my ears, but also with my eyes. How can you listen with your eyes? People not only communicate verbally, but they also speak through their body language. Our bodies can express deception, anger, confusion, joy, clear understanding, disagreement, impatience, authority, control, confidence, weakness, and strength. When you watch for the silent message being conveyed, you will receive the whole message. This applies to both the speaker and listener. Let us be aware of our own body language in order to safeguard against communicating mixed or confusing messages.
But before we can communicate effectively with God’s people, we first must have healthy communication with God. Good communication with Him enables us to understand His vision and plan. A good prayer life is essential to speak to God and seek what He wants for us and His people. Let us not seek the counsel of others before we seek God’s guidance for the plans or decisions we must make. Only through God are all things possible.
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
When we carefully listen to His tender voice, we will have clarity and understanding. We will know when to go, how we should go and to whom we should go. His voice will guide us in communicating to His people and how to implement His vision for His church.
God gave us two eyes, two ears and only one mouth. That was purposeful so we would listen and see twice as much as we speak. We must convey our needs and attentively wait to hear the reply from God. At other times, we must open our ears, eyes, and heart to hear what God is instructing us to do. Then we can begin to discern God’s heart. When we are aligned with God, His plan and vision and attentively listen to Him, we demonstrate that we care and show Him that His guidance is important to us.
Sometimes the clutter and noise that surrounds our lives try to drown out God’s voice. In those moments we must be still during the storm and distraction, faithfully waiting for God to clear the way. God will show Himself strong and grant us victory, peace, and success.
Let us understand the order of how we should communicate – first with God, and then with others. Developing relationships with His people, making time for them, and listening to them shows that we care and demonstrates His love.
Communication is essential in our everyday life, but it is more important in our daily walk with God. Salvation is at stake and lives may be lost if we fail to communicate with God and if we are not communicating clearly to God’s people. Using your two ears, two eyes, and your heart, listen first to God, then His people. Only then will your mouth clearly convey God’s vision, purpose, and plan.
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day.” Psalms 25:4-5.
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