Many episodes of anger could be avoided if we understood how to communicate clearly.

what we have here is a failure to communicate

After enrolling in college in 1969, I finally earned my degree in 1998, graduating summa cum laude from Arkansas State University. I earned a BS in Communications with an emphasis in photojournalism.

Our curriculum in communications included how to speak, how to use rhetoric, how to write as well as communication difficulties between cultures.

Communication, however, is a two-way experience. There is the one who speaks and the one who is spoken to. As everyone knows, what is spoken is not necessarily what is heard.

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said,
but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

Alan Greenspan

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”—Alan Greenspan

What you heard is not what I meant.

Why is that so often true?

The reasons are many, but I want to focus on only one of those—LISTENING.

Out of the many classes in the communications curriculum there was never more than lip-service paid to the idea of listening. It may have been mentioned in one or two classes, but that is all.

I have discovered, though, that the skill of listening is more important than the skill of speaking when considering the concept of communication.

It is the failure to listen effectively that is at the heart of so much
mis-communication, so much misunderstanding.

Each of us could benefit from improving our listening skills.

Listening is much more than simply allowing sound to penetrate and touch our eardrum. It is taking the time to truly understand what is being said.

There are two verses of Scripture which speak directly to this concept of listening well. I only have room to deal with one at this time, though.

Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger
(Jas 1:19).

There is a key to the lessening of anger flare-ups in this verse. It is not a separate command to avoid anger. The verse is actually about a method by which anger may be avoided.

Many, if not most, anger episodes occur as a direct result of a failure to understand what was said.

Remember the line from the movie, “Cool Hand Luke?” “What we have here is a failure to communicate!”

If we could simply learn to put our own thoughts on hold when another person is speaking, there would be less anger. Too often, we are ‘quick to speak’ instead of ‘slow’ as the verse says.

It is not about talking more slowly. It is about waiting to answer.

In your next conversation, try waiting a full five seconds after the other person is finished before you speak.

Stay tuned. There is more to come.


Putin seems oblivious to the posturing of the United States and its allies as he follows his destructive plans for Ukraine.

Russia invaded Ukraine today after weeks of posturing and threats, and the whole world is aghast at such a display of imperialism.

Putin seems oblivious to the posturing of the United States and its allies as he follows his destructive plans for Ukraine.

This event will dominate the evening news of the major networks and the 24-hour-cycle of continuing news as the reporters continue to rehash and repeat what they have said during their previous opportunity.

Most other newsworthy items will fall by the wayside for the foreseeable future. We will probably hear little about the pandemic.

For fundamentalist Christians, the discussion will be around the signs of the end-times as our prophets and preachers make capital of the fear through blog posts and books.

Conspiracy theorists will point to the decline of COVID so that something else is necessary to keep the population under the control of fear.

Liberal Christians will decry the injustices perpetrated by both Putin and Biden as innocent people become victims of the collateral damage caused by both the aggression and the retaliation.

Politicians will hold their comments until social media is in full swing so that they can check the temperature of their constituents.

Of course, all this is merely speculation on my part. We will not know for certain how things will things will shake out. By the time this article is published, the world as we know it could be so radically altered that we might wake up with a completely different state of affairs.

But, I doubt it.

Jesus said, “And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.” (Lk 21:9)

This is not a verse that people like to quote. We would rather give into our fear and concern so that we can talk about how the world is about to fall apart.

That is not where the Christian who is committed to following Jesus should stand.

“… (B)ut the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.”
(Dan 11:32) We should be able to take action rather than crouch in fear.

Also, the committed Christian should be a peacemaker. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Mat 5:9)

You are called to bring peace into the hearts of those who have allowed themselves to be terrorized by the next big thing to come on the earth.

However, you cannot do that if you are also one who engages in the conversations of fear and speculation about that over which you have no control.