Non-verbal: It’s the parts that are not words that communicate the most
INTRODUCING this theme in Blue Run I mentioned Philemon Philemon 4-5 as a Bible character with a reputation that had gone far beyond him. As well as being a man of clear faith and conviction, he was someone who was known for his love for others – specifically within the fellowship of Christians, but we may assume that he was known as an approachable person by those outside the faith.
When we come to know Jesus and make Him Lord of our lives, a heart transplant takes place. We change, and that change is usually quite visible to those who know us. The experience of God’s unconditional love for us is a deep one – and this is what connects with others.
We have to build some trust before we get to have a real conversation. It’s the difference in us that is the reason for them to trust us.
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.
People who are growing and learning and developing are purposeful people. They are going somewhere. If we are inviting others to share our journey, we’d better look as though we have a journey to share. Not just people with a stack of stagnant beliefs – that’s not attractive to anyone.
- Someone who has been somewhere I haven’t is attractive.
- Someone who can take me somewhere I haven’t been gets my interest.
- Someone who is passionate and positive about it looks like a real person.
This is close to what the Bible calls ‘joyful’. We may not have got to say anything about Jesus and the faith we have in Him. Not yet… but how we are is more important than what we may say.
Much more important, actually. Researchers say that getting on for two-thirds of what communicates, is non-verbal, in other ways it is about our body language. Just how we are sends a lot of almost imperceptible signals that people pick up. The WAY we are gives validity to the words we may use – as the Bible says, wise, and full of grace:
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
What NOT to say can be as important as what we do say. Is this the right time? How much is the other person ready to process now? This is about being prayerfully prepared and listening to the prompts of the Holy Spirit. It’s not all about words (even if many of us were taught that way).
In an earlier era, it may have been different. Today, everything is being sold and people are bombarded with promotional messages all the time. So we do need to be ready to ‘sell’ – to put forward on offer – what we believe in and live in, but to do it in a way which respects where they are coming from.
1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you, to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
“Giving an answer” which is about your personal story meets the criteria of gentleness and respect. Your story is not your opinion, or even your pitch. No one can rubbish it because it is your own story! Just make sure you can tell it briefly. It needs to be a headline story at first. A particular, personal aspect of meeting with Jesus – it may be more recent than your salvation story – tht you can recount in a few sentences.
More about “giving an answer” and crafting your story on Black Run.