On the right sidebar you can find a small, new feature on the blog. It’s under the title “Random Posts.” You can click on the link and it’ll take you to a random post on this blog. It might be completely pointless, but you might find it fun (and beneficial!).
Part 5 of a 6 part series. View series intro and index.
I can’t count the number of times on a weekly basis that I get disappointed with a person or a situation because something has gone wrong. Most of the time, I find myself frustrated, not because someone really did something evil or offensive to me, but because the advance of my agenda was halted. The kingdom of James came crashing down.
Your Biggest Communication Problem
Teacher and counselor Paul Tripp puts it like this: “You get angry, not because God’s law was broken, but because your law was broken.” That’s convicting, isn’t it? More often than not, when our blood gets boiling, it’s usually because we didn’t get our way. Rarely are we ever displeased, Tripp says, when God doesn’t get his way.
When a conflict arises, and I sense anger, defensiveness, sadness, or any emotion contrary to love brewing in my heart, I need to consider the question, “Are my expectations of this person or situation unreasonable?” Often, someone actually does sin and communicate or act wrongly. After all, they are imperfect as well. However, if I’m honest with myself, usually the latter is the case. Again Tripp reminds us, “You are your biggest communication problem.”
My unreasonable expectations are why I’m frequently arrogant, disappointed, depressed, angered, bitter, confused, and standoffish. When we have unreasonably high expectations in communication or with relationships in general, these emotions always rear their ugly head. These emotions, in turn, usually always lead to negative communication with the other person. We become purposefully hurtful, vague, shady, or even worse, we just plain ignore them.
What’s the solution to this problem? If you think about it, how often do you live up to your own expectations? The answer for myself is almost never. If I fail to keep my standards every day, how can I ever expect someone who’s not me to keep them? More than that, we must understand that we have failed to meet God’s expectations and requirements. Nevertheless, he has forgiven us because the only perfect man, Jesus Christ, has clearly communicted who God is and how we can can him. And he has accomplished this for us through his atoning work for our sins on the cross.
The short answer is cling to Jesus, confess your sin of faulty communication (and everything else!), and seek to change your intentions, thoughts, actions, and words by the power of God’s grace. For the long answer, check back in a week for our last post in this series.
I’m not very old. I’m 24. But the older I get and as I work with different people in ministry contexts, the understanding for my need of practical theology deepens. I’m glad I’m learning this now and not when I’m 50.
We all know people who can argue about finer points of theology in regards to spiritual gifts, the atonement, justification, eschatology, etc. However, when it comes to practical living, they fall flat on their face. There are guys who can talk Calvinism all day, but do not know their wife’s favorite restaurant. Perhaps you are one of those people. I know I can be from time to time.
The people and students I work with know that I love doctrine. And it is essential! But if it’s only head knowledge and theory, what’s the point?
So many people are prepared to answer questions about the doctrines I mentioned above (or others). That’s all well and good, but here’s the kind of questions I get from people (and some I’ll probably be asked once I pastor a church):
- Is it wrong to kiss my girlfriend?
- What can I do to stop eating so much?
- How can I get myself to read the Bible everyday?
- Why do I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning?
- How can I love my parents better?
- Why am I so bad at communicating?
- Why isn’t God answering my prayers?
- How can I stop drinking so much?
- How do I stop procrastinating?
I assume that you get these questions, too. Of course, there are those questions like, “What is irresistible grace?” and “What does Paul teach about the sanctification process?” and many other doctrinally oriented questions. But if you merely answer a question, instead of responding to a person, you aren’t doing anyone any good.
Theology was made for man, not man for theology. Take everything that the Holy Spirit teaches you — everything in the Scriptures, all the doctrines — and be intensely practical. That’s what everyday life is all about.