I just got through spending an incredible week in Dallas for my second semester in the Master’s of Religious Education Missional Leadership program through Rochester College. While this is not the purpose of my post, I want to take a second to say that I could not be more pleased with the education, relationships, and experiences I am getting through this program. You should check it out here. Back to the point…
So I spent a week in Dallas talking about missional church and missional leadership. One of the main things I have learned so far is the importance of a listening leader. One of the leader’s primary concerns, according to our amazing professor Dr. Mark Love, is to create an environment where the word of God can be spoken and heard. I have those thoughts floating around in the back of my head as I’m driving around today and I hear on the radio a recent study linking the importance of positive speech to migraine patients. You can read about the study here, but basically they noticed patients reported more pain relief when their medicine was associated with positive speech. That thought mixed with a recent lecture from Mark Love has really been weighing heavily on me.
You see, Dr. Love was stressing the importance of speech and listening. He said the way we speak to one another is a big indicator of whether or not the Word of God can flourish. Think about how often Paul speaks of the hope and newness of life found in the death and resurrection of Christ, and then shortly after that launches into warnings about slander, gossip, and unwholesome talk (see Ephesians for an example). Dr. Love is teaching us about this and then he makes a statement that really cut me: “Gossip, slander and other such speak creates a divisive environment that prevents a hearing and speaking environment for the Word of God.”
Wow! No longer will I approach this matter of speech with the mindset of, “Don’t talk bad about people because the bible says not to.” Now it is, “Watch how you talk about people because you may actually be hindering the Word of God from being spoken.” That cuts me. Next time I hear and see speech patterns of slander, gossip, and the like, I will think twice about jumping into that conversation.
One of the best lessons I learned this week was to watch my speech and be intentional about creating an environment where the Word of God can be both spoken and heard. In order to create this environment, we have to start watching our words and speech patterns. If the word package associated with migraine medicine is so important, how much more so the word package associated with speaking the Word of God?