In the third century, a young Christian woman and nursing mother named Perpetua demonstrated her devotion to the Lord even to death. She was asked by the authorities and her own father to deny her Christian faith in order to save her life, but she refused. Her words of faith spoke clearly: “Could this vase or flowerpot be called b any other name? I cannot be called anything other than I am, a Christian.” In an amphitheater before crowds of mockers, Perpetua and other martyrs were scourged by gladiators, mutilated by wild animals, and then killed by swords. She courageously spoke of her faith and then died for it.
As a Christian woman and as a speaker, it is of utmost necessity to evaluate your relationship with God. Your devotion to God will be reflected by your readiness to speak out for Jesus whenever you are called upon, and also as you prepare to bring a biblical message from the Lord. Are you strong in your faith? Are you growing in Him? Are you becoming the woman God created you to be? If you desire your life to count for His glory, you must be walking with the Lord faithfully as you engage in Bible Study, spend time in prayer, serve the Lord in ministry, and speak a witness of His redeeming love.
We will be judged based on the motives behind our service to the Lord as revealed in 1 Corinthians 3:11-13: “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will be clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” (HCSB)
Bible study is essential for spiritual growth, and it is also an important source of information for preparing to speak a word from the Lord. Personal Bible study reveals not only the nature of God, it also teaches truths of the faith that can be shared with others. Devotional reading of the Bible as well as systematic study of the Word provide a biblical foundation for speeches and supportive material for points of the message.
Prayer is another vital element of spiritual growth for the Christian woman teacher to embrace daily! Prayer draws a believer closer to the Lord. God speaks to His children during times of prayer, and His children have the opportunity to speak their hearts to Him. Prayer also guides and directs a Christian who is preparing to speak, and prayer empowers the Christian while speaking. It is integral to the Christian life and essential for the Christian speaker.
Other important disciplines of the Christian faith are witnessing and service. All of these are needed for the spiritual growth and speech preparation of a Christian woman. However, these disciplines are not possible without complete devotion to the Lord. We must possess His strength to be able to be who He has called us to be. Being devoted in seeking Him is vital to the woman who is a Bible teacher, as she will be an example to many other women.
Devotion is not a word understood by or desired by the world. Most people are devoted only to themselves and their own desires. But the Bible teaches believers to be devoted to the Lord and follow Him wholeheartedly. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and man.”
The dictionary defines devotion as “ardent, often selfless affection and dedication,” It is loyalty and enthusiasm for a person activity or cause. It is literally pure love, the knowledge that one would actually give up life to protect or defend another without question or hesitation. For Christians, devotion is pure love of the Lord, a sincere expression of total faith through prayer and worship.
Devotion to the Lord helps a Christian be prepared at all times to speak out for Jesus, much like Perpetua. Personal commitment to the task of public speaking will also help a Christian speaker develop skills for the task. Those who think about the process of communication, learn about public speaking, study speaking techniques, and practice specific principles will undoubtedly become much more effective public speakers.
Listening is a higher level skill than hearing. It is difficult especially when done well. It is a psychological process which requires perception and understanding. It is reaction to sound and hearing with thoughtful attention, attaching meaning to what is heard. It is a skill one learns. People learn to “tune in” or “tune out” – we hear many things but we listen to few.
Because listening varies with the different situations, there are four types of listening: (1) empathetic; (2) informative; (3) evaluative; and (4) appreciative. Sometimes a listener must empathize with the speaker to understand and offer moral support and concern. Other times, a listener wants to gain information and seek knowledge for the purpose of learning. The listener may evaluate or critique a message in order to confront or challenge. Or, the listener may simply seek enjoyment or entertainment with no interest in information or evaluation. The type of listening will affect the manner of listening!
Listening is important! Some people are naturally good listeners, though most are better talkers. It has been said that God gave us one mouth and two ears so that we could listen twice as much! Iconic western movie star John Wayne put it this way: “You’re short on ears and long on mouth.” People do seem to enjoy hearing themselves speak more than listening to others. Carpenters have a rule; measure twice, cut once. That principle could apply to listening and talking!
Consider these various reasons why people should listen:
1. Listen to acquire facts – gather information and gain knowledge.
2. Listen to analyze facts and ideas – determine the nature of the information.
3. Listen to evaluate facts and ideas – determine the significance and worth of the information.
4. Listen for entertainment – enjoy, relax or be encouraged!
5. Listen for inspiration – feel reassured and have hope!
6. Listen to improve your communication – learn from others.
7. Listen to show concern and interest – strengthen relationships and demonstrate empathy.
Listening is one of the greatest gifts one can give! It is also a discipline we must all develop.
Human communication is a creation of God, an innate ability to convey thoughts to others. The process of human communication is very complex as people attempt to create meaning by using symbolic behavior in a specific situation to achieve understanding.
Communication is essential to life and relationships. It has been said that most of us spend up to 70% of our waking hours engaged in some form of communication. A person’s waking hours are filled with words!
Communication skills have the power to help people achieve their goals and accomplish their dreams. In his book, Secrets of Great Communicators, Jeff Myers suggests there are six ways communication skills can help dreams come true. He believes people with excellent communication skills will have a tremendous advantage over those without them. It has been said that seven out of ten jobs require good speech skills!
Consider these factors which support the impact of good communication on life and work:
1. You will find a stronger sense of purpose.
2. You will become aware of the world around you.
3. You will become a better learner.
4. You will become a better thinker.
5. You will develop greater poise in social situations.
6. You will relate better to others.
Queen Esther is an excellent biblical example of an effective communicator. She had many serious concerns to express, grace information which necessitated an audience with the king. She discreetly planned the appropriate time to pour out her deep burden and reveal the planned plot to kill her beloved Mordecai (Esther 4:15-5:8). Her conversation with the king literally saved her people!
In the beginning, God spoke the world into being. His divine communication accomplished His creation. For Christians, communication is more than an exchange of ideas. It is sharing faith with others through God-given speaking abilities. God empowers His children to communicate with Him through prayer and with each other in many different ways. So you see – learning how to SPEAK truly is a gift.
Communication between different languages requires translation and adaptation. When men and women communicate, their different primary language requires some understanding and consideration by the other. Judith Tingley described this process of adaptation as “genderflex” in her book Genderflex: Men and Women Speaking Each Other’s Language at Work. In the book, genderflex is defined as an active process: “to temporarily use communication behavior typical of the other gender in order to increase potential for influence.”
Because of the natural way men and women communicate, temporary adaptation to a different style of communication is necessary when talking with someone of the opposite gender. The primary goal of this adjustment is effective communication with members of the opposite sex.
Genderflex is necessary in life and ministry. Researchers have concluded that women make more adjustments in communication than men in mixed groups. Women tend to talk about topics of more interest to men when both genders are present. They also adjust their style and structure more easily in order to be understood and appreciated. These studies demonstrate that male-female conversations are more like men’s conversations than they are like women’s.
In the context of the Christian community, several strategies for improving gender communication can be employed:
1. Become aware of your communication style.
2. Understand the communication style of the opposite sex.
3. Adjust to different conversational styles.
4. Alter your conversational style to fit the context.
5. Don’t assume that the opposite sex understands your message.
6. Don’t criticize others who communicate in a different way.
It is a human tendency to think “my way is the best way.” In the area of communication, remember that different conversational styles are not bad. Different is simply different. Accept the differences and adjust when needed. Men and women have different – though equally valid – communication styles!
For more about communicating between genders, see Chapter One of Talking is a Gift! Monica and I share personal stories of miscommunication with men, and what we learned!