A Pre-Lenten Devotional – Speaking Like a Christian

by Rev. Robert Naylor

It was the third week in my first parish.  After the service as I was greeting the worshippers I received many very positive comments.  One woman highlighted a few lines in the sermon which I had considered transitional (of little importance) as life changing for her.  It was then that I realized all the words that I speak matter.  There can’t be unthought out words – people’s lives can be changed by what we say.  Another parishioner commented that on one occasion I spoke in a very loud voice.  He said that it was so loud that he couldn’t hear what I was attempting to say.  I learned that volume and tone matter.  And then there was my beloved English major wife.  After literally dozens of head swelling compliments, she burst my bubble with the words, “You made three grammatical mistakes.”  She said it with a smile, but she could have left her thoughts to herself.  I thought “I guess I am imperfect.  I guess I need a little humility.”  Humility is always needed when we wish to speak our thoughts.

The Bible speaks a great deal about how a person of faith relates to others through the gift of words.  Proverbs 15:1, Matthew 5:22, James 1:26, and over 100+ verses give warnings about Christian civility in speech.  I have to admit that my mother’s wise two words “Be kind” sum up for me the essence of Jesus’ and the Bible’s teaching on how we communicate with everyone we meet.

I have been asked on numerous occasions for a short list of effective ways of communicating.    


  1. Remember whose you are – Remember again and again and again…..“… The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23)
  2. Be present and clear the calendar and stories in your head – being present tells the other person that he/she matters – maintain eye contact
  3. Listen first and second and third – God gave us two ears and one mouth
  4. When in a moment of potential conflict before speaking take 30 seconds and breathe deeply
  5. Measure your volume and whisper or speak in gentle tones “your” truth. Beware of a tongue ablaze (James 3:1-12)
  6. Be kind
  7. Believe that the image of God is in the other person and you can learn something from that person – Everyone we meet is a teacher – Be prepared to be amazed
  8. Listen to understand – not to reply – Don’t be writing your script when the other person is delivering their lines
  9. Ask open ended questions to clarify
  10. Be kind
  11. Be humble – share your truth with grace
  12. Remember don’t seek to win – seek to find common ground and an appreciation for the other person
  13. Remember all are children of God but not necessarily like “me” – Our personalities have been shaped by our life journey – some of us are introverts, some our extroverts, no two people’s personalities are alike
  14. Be kind
  15. Remember that God might be laughing – seek the humor / humanity in the situation
  16. When all else fails, repeat #1

A Prayer I Say Before Each Sermon Which Is A Prayer for All of Us to Pray Before Speaking

“May the Words of my mouth and the meditations of (my / our) hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.”

Blessings My New Friends in Christ,


A Ted Talk on Effective Communication – Celeste Headlee – NPR