I love the challenge of communicating across language gaps. It is a serious challenge! Concepts, metaphors, and ideas do not always find a ready reference in another culture or language. Even simple stories do not cross the barrier. Roles, gender, cultural, and even family have unique places in context. The process of assuming that the words one uses can be understood is one that is followed at great risk. Individuals see life from a framework build on their environment and experiences. If one wants to communicate with another individual or group, understanding their perspective is critical.
Great teachers understand this construct. One author documents Jesus' approach to reaching out to others. “After his death, he presented himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days.” (Acts 1.3) This model has been repeated with great teachers throughout history. Despite the evidence, I often take an arrogant stance that mandates my listeners translate my words. There is an alternative we would do well to consider.
Language is primarily non-verbal. If we want to communicate, I humbly suggest that one must take the time to understand one audience. When I listen to my own advice, magical things happen. The very act of reaching out to others in their language is a significant statement!
Secondly, take the time to patiently affirm that the message one gave is the one that was received. If one wants to communicate it is critical to remember that the primary responsibility for the words one offers to another lies with the giver, not the receiver.
Today dawns with an unwritten chapter. You and I will write a story. The content will begin with our words and actions. I know my story will be less than perfect. I also know that my intent is a critical element what happens. God may guide, but I write. The Spirit may encourage, but I will ultimately offer the expression. Everything is possible. My dream is that today's chapter is laced with compassion, grounded in community, and shaped by mercy. Heaven is possible here, now.
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