Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Is there such a thing as an over-believer?

This question was asked on one of the writing groups. My answer is NO! I believe in Jesus and the good news of the gospel with every fiber of my being. Is there such a thing as an over-communicator? Well . . . yes.

I have a young relative that was a brand new preacher. He was on fire with an unmatched evangelistic zeal. When he was speaking to potential converts you could see their eyes glaze over as he exceeded their capacity to receive information. I told him we need to learn to gauge the amount of information our intended audience is prepared to receive. He learned to read people better, to not try to get the job done in one burst of information, and be patient to match the message with the receiver.

This is particularly true when bringing a message of faith to a non-believer. What happens when that occurs? The Holy Spirit brings them under conviction. Being under conviction is difficult enough for Christians who understand what it is and often need a dose of it, but it is never a comfortable thing. Being a non-believer and coming under conviction is that much more uncomfortable when they don’t understand what is going on but do not like it. The result is usually to tune out or even to resist. Not what we are after.

It’s the same in writing, in our daily communications, sermons, any type of communication activity. We have to try to match the message with the receiver. I had a speech professor once that said we all possess a box of index cards. On those cards are written all of our life experiences, our education, our upbringing, the mistakes we have made, all the facets of our life. We formulate a communication by going through that box and putting the message together by using that box.

The problem is the message will be received by a person with another box that has a completely different set of cards, and they will use their cards, not ours, to decode the message. To the extent that we can find common ground, that is the extent that we will effectively communicate. A good communicator can match the message to the receiver, can keep from giving them more information than they are prepared to receive in one sitting.

Is there such a thing as an over-believer? No, I don’t believe it possible to love the Lord TOO much. Is there such a thing as an over-communicator? Actually that seems to happen a lot, particularly with those who are on fire for the Lord, but there is something we can do about it. And we can become more effective communicators for God by matching the message to the listener.

Hope everybody has a wonderful and productive new year with all of the blessings you can handle,



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great reminder! I've listened to many sermons that could have ended in half the amount of time :)

What a fabulous goal for the new year, to be a better communicator!

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, I love this post, Terry. Thank you for putting into words some thoughts that have swirled in my brain for awhile. I especially appreciate the analogy of the index cards.

We received a Christmas card from a dear friend who also included a typewritten sheet with several salvation scriptures, as well as the plan of salvation in two paragraphs of her family letter. I wish she'd used a lot fewer index cards--we are already saved and on fire for Jesus. It's like throwing a life saver to me when I've already got a life jacket on and am sitting in the life boat. Throw it to the drowning guy!

Oops, I think I over-communicated there, didn't I? Proved your point.

Happy New Year,

Diana Flegal said...

Love this index card analogy! Really right on- I know this is going to benefit me in my communication with others. Thank you so much Terry!

writer jim said...

I'm thrilled to hear that the young relative is such an evangelist...praise God!
I have witnessed for Christ my whole life. One method I try to be faithful to tell everyone when I have a good opportunity. If I meet a stranger and we talk; I also witness.
Yet my entire life I may have only had probably two people witness to me.
There are not many people like that young relative.

Bess said...

We can "over-communicate" in books too. No one seems to want a preachy book (in fiction anyhow.)

patriciazell said...

I so agree with Shmologna that we can "overcommunicate" in books. For years I have been trying to write a book sharing the understandings I've gained. Inevitably, my writing would be way too technical and preachy. This year, God led me to attend the Write-to-Publish conference and to begin participating in Michael Hyatt's blog. As a result, I launched my own blog where I am writing my book. I have found a freedom from preachiness by writing conversational posts. I am having fun and who knows what doors God will open when I finish the book. Oh, and I now have a brand: God's absolute love--perfect, complete, and real.