I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant #TraditionallySouthside

Wow! The weirdest thing just happened. The text alert went off on my phone, and I discovered that I was having a text message conversation with my daughter. The only problem was that I wasn’t doing the texting. But there it was. My conversation stream with Jennifer. Messages going back and forth. But I was simply an observer and not a participant. No. My phone has not been hijacked. Sonya had to get a new phone yesterday, and somehow adding it all to our account messed up her settings on her iPad causing her to send text messages through my account. Got it? Neither do I. It is just strange. So what did I do? I joined in the conversation, and it looked like I was texting myself, asking questions as to why I was using my phone number to send texts. Very interesting. You know the old saying: It’s okay to talk to yourself as long as you don’t answer? Well, I wonder if answering your own texts is a sign of insanity.

Okay, okay. I’m not crazy. It was really Sonya (I think) texting Jennifer (I think) using my number (I know). But that started me to really thinking about how easy it is for our messages to get mixed up as we try to communicate with others. I can’t tell you how many times Sonya will voice her opinion to someone and that person automatically assumes that it is my opinion. Quite often, it is not. Or how about that other old saying, “I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” Communication is a very sensitive issue because a simple facial expression, a change in tone, or a pause in a sentence can change the message as it leaves the mouth of the communicator and before it reaches the brain of the listener.

As a pastor, I struggle with that simple truth every time I speak. Seldom does a week go by when someone comments on one of my messages expressing something they liked about what I said, and I’m thinking to myself, “Did I say that?” Sure, I understand that quite often the Holy Spirit takes my inadequate, imperfect words and translates them into what the listener needs to hear. So very often I finish a message feeling like a complete failure only to find that God has taken that message and used it powerfully in the lives of my congregation reminding me that it’s not about me. Yes, I need to work very hard to say only what God wants me to say, but ultimately He is the one who brings the message home into the hearts of those who receive it. That takes a little bit of the pressure off – but not much. You see, as a human being with free will, we often say things that God never intends. That’s how heresies begin. It is how false teachings spread. It is how people are deceived. We cannot count on God to translate every message into the words that He wants our people to hear. Oh, He could if He wanted to, but He doesn’t. So preachers, it is important for us to spend time in prayer and deep meditation on the Word preparing ourselves to deliver God’s Word or we risk misleading our people. Church members, it is imperative that we do the same as we share God’s Word with a lost world because He has chosen us to be the instruments through which the lost are reached with the gospel.

It can be very confusing sometimes, this thing called communication, but it is a great honor to know that God has entrusted us with something so important. Well, I’ve got to go because now it looks like I’m calling myself – this could be fun! (Just kidding.)

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