As I started in the previous blog, I have a growing concern about how we’re communicating with one another in a variety of social settings…offered from my personal observations. I’m curious about how this is affecting our life together as brothers and sisters in Christ, and wonder if you’re sensing the same things.
So, I’d like to offer here a few additional noticings:
Have you paid attention to the abundance of self-referencing going on today? One person shares their heart; the other responds with their own application of the story instead of simply being present to empathetically attend. “Oh yea, that happened to me as well…” or “Looks great, did you know I’ve been there/done that too…” then adding all their own tiresome details. Reality: we have learned a new way of listening that’s more about what I’m hearing from my own personal vantage point rather than focusing exclusively on the speaker’s words and accompanying thoughts, experiences, and/or feelings.
What about one-up-man-ship…always having to be better looking, wiser, wittier or wealthier than another? You know those kind of people who can only be in the presence of others if the spotlight can be appropriately turned on them, and if not, will do whatever it takes to be sure it is. This is evidenced in clothing, automobiles, homes, self-care, story telling, political convictions, educational achievements, etc. Reality: it’s painful to be in the presence of our competitors who will do what it takes to get the attention and seek purposefully or inadvertently to be better than you.
The next two go hand in glove…no restraint and no filters. Those without restraint will say anything that comes to their mind, albeit random, unnecessary, or even hurtful. Having no restraint in relational settings can at times be humorous, but only when it’s self-deprecating. Most of the time, no restraint means no social sense of what’s appropriate for the company or occasion. Add to that no filters, then it’s often without boundaries, with words, feelings, and attitudes expressed whenever and with whomever is present. Reality: gone is acceptable etiquette and appropriately filtered restraint between persons.
May I suggest some additional personal inventory reflection questions:
1. Recall one of the most immediate personal interactions you had with a friend, family member, or work associate. Were you fully present for the other person’s sake alone, or did you need to bring up your own illustration of what was being discussed?
2. Who is your greatest relational competitor? How can you avoid competing with others in your own personal interactions with others today?
3. Having trouble with maintaining appropriate restraint and/or filters in conversations or on social media? If so, seek accountability so as not to be an offense to others and be open to candid feedback when you cross over boundaries which lead to unhealthy relationships.
Relationships within the body of Christ should reflect the tone, style, and posture of Jesus. He was always fully attentive to those with whom He loved and served. His was the way of humility. He spoke with bold and purposeful intentionality, never wasting words or speaking in a vacuum. May it be so for us, even today, as we interact with all who cross our path. May we be salt and light, filled with joy and freedom, peace and love in all our personal interactions.