Sitting Down and Talking Things Over – sure, let’s give that a shot

I’d been on the bench just a few years when I was given responsibility for administration of our courthouse. (It’s not the honor you may think it is: this assignment rotated among the judges and it was my turn.) I ran up against a problem and called a very experienced judge in southern California to get some insight on whether I should talk to the people involved or just let it be. His advice has stayed with me for the past 15 years:

I’ve found that more communication is almost always better than less.

I followed that advice and talked things out with everyone involved, and I’ve been following his advice ever since.

Words in the Church

In the Body of Christ, we serve the Living Word: communication counts in God’s Kingdom. Why wouldn’t we want to follow God’s own call?

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18.)

If God wants a conversation with us about our mistakes, we should certainly want to sit down with one another to reason out any differences we may have.

It’s the Godly way to act.

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Related post: Is Hospitality Lacking at the Gospel Coalition?

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[This post is part of a week-long series on law, legalism, being a judge, and judging rightly. Here’s Part One.]

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17 Responses to Sitting Down and Talking Things Over – sure, let’s give that a shot

  1. Tuija says:

    Tim, the video you linked seems to be no longer available (all I see is a message that the user who uploaded it has closed his/her YouTube account). Do you think you could give a quick summary of what she said?

    I agree that more communication tends to be better than less. Especially when all the people involved in the communication are also willing to listen to the others. A lot of one-way communication does not necessarily make things better… which, I guess, is exactly your point. 🙂

  2. janehinrichs says:

    The video was good. Thanks for sharing it!

  3. lauradroege says:

    I agree that more communication is better than less. But what is someone (say, a bystander to a church feud) to do if the people involved in “communicating” with one another seem intent on misreading each other’s motives, misinterpreting each other’s words, and generally not showing each other grace? Sometimes they’re not actually yelling; they might seem outwardly civil, but it’s obvious that neither party really wants to understand the other person’s view. What should a bystander do?

    • Tim says:

      I think the bystander is observing something that is far, far away from communication, Laura, and my response if I were the one looking on would be to pray and then pray some more. Jumping into the morass is rarely helpful in my experience. Not that I haven’t tried sometimes; that’s how I got that experience I just mentioned!

  4. Tim I love this quote “I’ve found that more communication is almost always better than less.” in a Chritianity where God appears to have a large rug in which we sweep all failures, offenses, hurts and pain under it in the sake of “God’s forgiven it, it’s in the past, so leave there. We do this because we fear confrontation or to upset the peace.

    The only issue is the next time someone lifts up the rug, so to speak or act, as they do something similar, the old hurt is revisited. Thus having an effect similar to lifting the rug up and going look at all that dirt under here, how did that get there.

    It gets there the same way those offenses get there, it was never dealt with. However just as eventually we must deal with the dirt under the rug,. sooner or later we will need to deal with these past hurts,offenses and pain. Unless we have direct communication issues rarely resolve themselves by themselves and in fact we continue to deal with others with the dirt we claim we swept under the rug.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    • Tim says:

      That quote is straight from my retired colleague, Pat. His point was much like yours: it’s better to deal with things while they’re manageable in size rather than let them pile up into a big mess.

  5. Aimee Byrd says:

    It is truly amazing to think of how God has clearly communicated to us in his Word, and how he provides the power for us to “get it” with his own Holy Spirit. Sometimes I sinfully think that some people just aren’t worth reasoning with, but God has condescended to communicate with me, a very undeserving person! Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Jeannie says:

    When I read that verse you quoted from Isaiah 1, it sounds as if God is saying, “It’s going to be OK: I love you and we can work this out, come talk to me!” — the way we might with a child who is worried that she’s going to be punished if she comes closer. But sometimes in conflicts with others we realize the other person doesn’t actually want that “Let’s work it out” conversation at the moment, and we need to wait until the time’s right to have that. I think it’s easier to be patient and give each other that space if we remember how patient God is with us.

    • Tim says:

      Amazing, Jeannie, because thats how I take that verse too: let’s talk about this together, because I know it will all work out. And the thing about God saying he has everything under control is that he really does.

      • Jeannie says:

        This is actually really helpful to me right now because it reaffirms to me that it is probably unwise (or at least premature) to talk things over with someone who you suspect is going to say, “And now that we’ve canvassed the details of our conflict, I’ve decided I can’t be in relationship with you any more.” I’ve been in that place and wondered, am I just really cowardly because I won’t have that conversation at this moment? But when there’s a deep sense that you’re loved, that fear is lessened.

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