The Importance Of Communicating With Excellence In
By SARAH MOCKLER
The long-anticipated day arrived…
For six weeks we had refrained from talking and texting with one another in order to seek the Lord’s heart without distraction, but that crisp fall day, a boy carrying a big bouquet knocked on my door and took me up, up, and away into the highest heights of the Rockies for the longest scenic drive probably known to man. For hours, we wound our way through sometimes snowy peaks to glimpse the last of the season’s glittering aspens and parked at a lodge for a romantic dinner with a crackling fire and linen napkins. The setting was like something out of National Geographic, and it set the tone for the adventure we were embarking upon. Majestic. Epic. Regal.
The very next day, history repeated itself. Only this time, we ventured to a little college town and walked up and down the sidewalk streets where we were greeted by a community garden replete with rapturous color from waving dahlias, zinnias, and the last lingering roses of summer.
Those first two dates were and always will be golden, and together they held more than twenty hours of conversation. Nate and I talked, and talked, and talked. And when we got to the end of those two outings and were separated by a week-long business trip of Nate’s, we said goodbye realizing there was still so much more to be said. Questions we hadn’t asked. Topics we hadn’t covered.
Turning the clock back a few years, I found myself in a different set of circumstances where a relationship didn’t turn out the way I had hoped or envisioned. And now that time has passed, I can distinctly see the role that communication played in the outcome. It goes without saying that relationships can be tricky to navigate and are not always as cut and dried as we might prefer. What we say, and conversely, what we don’t say can be tremendously helpful or harmful in romantic relationships.
For example, two individuals can be excellent communicators and yet fail to communicate well in a relationship. Or unhelpful factors like busyness, fear and insecurity, excessive digital communication, or too much physical interaction can blur the lines of communication and create poor reception on the giving or receiving end.
As new heights of digital communication are scaled and we become more and more conditioned to communicate through means of TikTok and texting rather than via thoughtful, face-to-face interaction, I find that the majority of couples I see enjoying dinner out, taking in a sunset walk, or vacationing have their noses in their phones or carry on entire conversations centered solely around what is happening on their device, rather than what is happening within their heart and soul. Pairing that with the social paralyzation that resulted from the isolation caused by COVID-19, our generation has been further crippled in the communication department. We are deteriorating nto a generation that doesn’t know how to engage in God-honoring, in-person conversation.
Being a good communicator does not necessarily mean we use a ton of words. Sharing each and every thought that pops into our head with someone is unhealthy. Even those of us who are verbal processors need to learn the important principle of making Jesus our first turn — or pouring out our every thought to Jesus. And then, after we have done that, to listen for His still, small voice in what He would have us share with others. A wise communicator knows the weight and value of words and seeks to speak only that which is fitting for the situation — or relationship — at hand. (See Proverbs 29:11.)
As those who are set apart for His glory, how we communicate in the area of romantic relationships will look different to the world around us. Jesus communicated with truth, with compassion, and with honor while He walked this earth. And as His followers, He instructs us to do the same.
I’m desirous to grow in Christlike communication … not to be an excellent public speaker, but simply so that I can love others well. By nature, I would not call myself a gifted conversationalist, but Scripture plainly states that our speech is to “always be with grace, seasoned with salt…” (Col. 4:6). No matter what our level of skill may be, the reality is that God can enable us by His equipping power to have grace-based speech. In fact, it is God’s amazing grace that bridges the gap between our natural ability and His endless capacity to make up for any lack we may have!
Taking what the Lord taught me through my previous experience, I sought to communicate with the best of intentions with Nate, and it only blessed and benefited us both. First, we invested a season of talking the possibility over with the Lord — to seek His wisdom of pursuing a relationship in the first place, as well as sense where He was leading our individual lives. Eventually that season of seeking the Lord opened to include spending quality time with one another.
As our relationship progressed, we realized how important it was to communicate clearly, frequently, and excellently in our relationship throughout its various stages of growth in order to discern if the Lord was moving our relationship forward and so that we might truly see if this was the person for whom we had long prayed for! We found that clear communication created a clear path through which to enjoy what God was weaving between us and carried us forward to covenant. Communication counts.
Reflecting upon those beautiful autumn days of our newly unfolding relationship, I realized some of the sweetest moments were found in the conversations we shared — the unity that was established when sharing our perspectives, the bond that was forged with each goodnight at my doorstep, the harmony that resulted from hard conversations, and the deep friendship that bloomed between us all resulted in much “sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Prov. 16:24b).
On the next page I’ve included some starting points and practices that you can begin incorporating at any season of your life. Whether you’re waiting to begin a relationship but wanting to prepare well, or you have a ring on your finger and the date is set for the “big day,” my prayer is that these super- practical ideas will aid you in sharing your heart with those whom the Lord places in your path.
fine points for
EXCELLING IN COMMUNICATION
Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or heading into marriage!
It’s Just Me
- Seek the Lord on His shape and vision for your life. Write down what you believe the Lord is calling you to do so that you can confidently share with others who inquire.
- Practice the art of communicating with excellence in the relationships you do have: siblings who try your patience, your mentor who just asked that very honest question, your boss who comes from a different walk of life, etc.
- Evaluate your main streams of communication. Are you a heavy texter? Do you avoid written communication? Shy away from in-person confrontation? Purpose not to fall back on your default, and instead, ask for God’s grace to say hard things with winsome warmth and genuine care.
- Learn the basics of good oral communication. Look people in the eye. Smile warmly. Get the “ums” and “likes” out of your everyday speech. This will help you remove verbal clutter and aid you in carrying on a conversation clearly and without distraction.
- Seek opportunities to stretch yourself to share. (E.g., opening up in a small group, writing a note to someone you don’t know well, introducing yourself to others who are in a different life stage or season than you, etc.)
- Predetermine relationship non-negotiables. Write them down, ask God to further shape your convictions, and share them with a trusted parent or mentor with whom you envision holding yourself accountable to if you were in a relationship.
- Focus on being a woman of content. Meditate on the Lord. Think about who God is and what you believe. Scripture says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matt. 12:35). What kind of treasure do you have?
- Work on being “just friends” by cultivating a welcoming and warm demeanor that is kind and appropriate whether you are talking to guy or girl friends.
- Use group settings to your advantage to communicate about topics that truly matter. Steer conversation with a thought-provoking question rather than sticking to subjects like the weather and work. Develop questions that will take conversation deeper like, “What has God grown in you this year?” Or, “How has the Lord been answering prayer in your life?”
- Be watchful about your level of one-on-one communication with guy friends without knowing a guy’s true intentions.
- Prayerfully evaluate if/how you should be texting the guy you are interested in and make sure there is not a hidden motive residing in your heart to manipulate your circumstances.
- Talk with guy friends with the aim of evaluating their character and content. Ask yourself the question, “Does this guy have the depth to lead a conversation, a friendship, a group of peers, etc.?
- Come prepared to each date with a question or two that you could ask if there is a lull in conversation.
- Discover the other person’s communication style. (E.g., is he a verbal processor or no? Does he take a long time to formulate thoughts or does he arrive at a conclusion quickly? Does he receive information better via bullet-point or paragraph-style language? Is he metaphorical or intensely literal?)
- Discover what the other person’s love language is — you don’t necessarily have to take a test. Rather, prayerfully seek what is important to him in conversation and seek to communicate in the style that he receives best.
- Lay aside distractions when you’re together. (E.g., put your phone or smartwatch on silent; take a few minutes to clear your head after work and before spending time together.)
- Establish key conversations that need to be discussed: everything from things you are willing to agree to disagree on as well as hills you are willing to die on for the Lord. Consider topics like: vision for the future, marital roles, familial roles, marriage and ministry, missions, etc.
- Journal hallmarking moments in your relationship as they unfold — what memorial stones do you want to reflect upon and remember? In what ways have you seen God’s faithfulness on the pages of your relationship?
- Reserve sacred words for sacred moments. Don’t haphazardly or prematurely communicate before the right time (e.g., when should you say, “I love you”?).
- Place emphasis on praying together regularly. There should be no shortage of topics that you can pray for and over in this season!
- Aim to clothe conversation with honor when discussing sensitive topics that pertain to intimacy. It is helpful to communicate with honorable and veiled language.
- Seek to communicate verbally more than you do physically. A God-glorifying restraint on physical interaction will aid you in cultivating spiritual unity and help you navigate discussions without confusion.
- Be intentional when writing your marriage vows. Think about what you are really saying and what Scripture says about covenant.
- Discuss expectations you have for different practical aspects of marriage (e.g., who will cook and clean? What does quiet time look like after you’re married?).
- Share about what is important to both of you as you plan your wedding ceremony and reception.
- Rehearse God’s faithfulness together if you come up against stressful wedding-planning moments.
- Talk openly about how to best enjoy your honeymoon. Knowing how you both vacation (e.g., whether you prefer rest and relaxation or activity-driven adventures) can be extremely helpful!
If the words of the Lord are likened to silver being refined seven times until they shine with brilliant purity and radiant holiness, it is encouraging to know that we can draw near to the Word Himself and invite the Holy Spirit to shape our speech to fit and fill each conversation. (See Psalm 12:6.) Let’s press in and press on to share words in due season and joyfully invest in the relationships that grace our lives!