Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond - Lesson 12

Responsible Listening (Part 1/3)

In this lesson, you will explore practical peacemaking tools with a focus on the key tool of communication. Effective communication is a core competency in peacemaking, and understanding its challenges and laws can help you navigate and resolve conflicts. You will learn about the importance of responsible listening, which involves accepting responsibility for understanding what others say, no matter how poorly they communicate. Additionally, you will discover the significance of responsible speaking, which emphasizes clarity and empathy in your message. By mastering these skills, you can minimize and even avoid conflicts in various aspects of your life.

Rick Sessoms
Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond
Lesson 12
Watching Now
Responsible Listening (Part 1/3)

Lesson: Responsible Listening (Part 1/3)

I. Importance of Communication in Peacemaking

A. Core Competency in Peacemaking

B. Laws of Communication

II. Challenges in Communication

A. Misinterpretation and Misunderstandings

B. Information Overload

III. Developing Communication Skills

A. Responsible Listening

B. Responsible Speaking

Class Resources
  • Learn about the crucial role of leadership in conflict resolution, explore the various types of conflicts in the church, and understand the importance of building a peacemaking culture to prevent and address conflicts effectively.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights into the growth and crisis of the global church, with a focus on Africa, and learn about the tragic Rwandan genocide. You will examine the historical background of these crises, the church's role in addressing them, and the need to move beyond the Gospel of sin management. Embracing the four-chapter gospel, you will understand the church's responsibility as a community of reconciled people, embodying God's reconciling work in the world.
  • You will gain insights into the gospel and its applicability to everyday life, as well as its impact on society, including bringing reconciliation and creating heaven on Earth. The discussion acknowledges the difficulties of living out the gospel in society and the tension between living in the world and living for the gospel.
  • In this lesson, you'll gain insight into the sparks that ignite conflict in the church, understand how conflicts can escalate, and discover the importance of developing peacemaking skills and fully embracing the gospel to foster unity and resolve conflicts.
  • You will learn about conflict culture in the church, which is an inherited culture for resolving conflict shaped by visible and invisible elements and assumptions and values that drive conditioned responses, and how recognizing and addressing it can lead to healthy conflict resolution.
  • This lesson explores how pastors and church leaders address people-pleasing cultures, examining the attitudes and actions of laissez-faire, controlling, and peacemaking leaders, and discussing the role of the church in promoting peacemaking, involving others, and establishing support systems.
  • Crafting a culture of peace requires three building blocks: having a passion for the gospel, unified leadership that exhibits a shepherd's heart to protect and guide, and embracing a peacemaking theology. By focusing on these building blocks, we can create a harmonious society that avoids the slippery slope towards violence.
  • This lesson highlights the significance of unified leadership within the church, demonstrating how effective leadership can help overcome crises and conflicts. By examining factors that contribute to unity and disunity among leaders, you will gain insight into the importance of addressing issues such as control, communication, differing gifts, competition, and qualifications in order to maintain a cohesive and gospel-centered leadership team.
  • You will gain insight into the importance of preparation and certain characteristics that need to be in place before conflict in order to build a united leadership team, using an analogy of running a marathon.
  • This lesson provides insights on understanding conflict and developing a peacemaking theology, teaching you how to respond biblically and create an approach that honors God and benefits those involved in the conflict.
  • You will learn practical steps to overcome conflict by reflecting the glory of God, responding with humility and grace, prioritizing unity over self-interest, speaking the truth in love, and pursuing forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • By learning practical peacemaking tools and focusing on communication, you'll enhance your ability to resolve conflicts by mastering responsible listening and speaking, enabling you to better understand others and communicate your message more effectively.
  • You will learn about the importance of listening as a spiritual practice to connect with God and others, and how being open and attentive to God's voice through listening can lead to greater awareness of His presence and deeper relationships with Him and others.
  • Gain insights into the barriers to good listening, the 600 word gap between listening capacity and speaking rate, and the objectives of responsible listening to improve communication and build trust in relationships.
  • In this lesson, you learn about the vital role of responsible speaking and listening in conflict resolution and how taking responsibility for understanding others and being understood can improve the chances of successful outcomes, along with strategies to enhance communication.
  • Learn to manage the Grapevine, an informal communication network, and understand the roles of Centrals and Peripherals in sharing information, as well as conflict mediation techniques and the importance of acknowledging and accommodating uneven tables in disputes.
  • This lesson highlights the crucial role of peacemaking beyond the church, touching on the history of American evangelicalism, race relations, and the inspiring story of Koinonia Farm, which exemplifies the importance of fostering reconciliation in a divided world.

How conflict and leadership intersect..

Dr. Rick Sessoms
Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond
Responsible Listening (Part 1/3)
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:02] Well, let's look at some practical tools. And we've talked about the, um, the three areas passion for the gospel, unified leadership, peacemaking, theology. Now, let's just look at some, some helpful tools, peacemaking tools. The key tool that I want to spend some time on is communication. Uh, communication is a core competency in peacemaking. Communication is the thread that ties people together is the oil that smoothes. It's the force that pervades is the glue that cements relationships. It's about communication. As important as it is, though, there are some laws of communication that may sound counterintuitive. These laws are in quotes. It's sort of tongue in cheek that this guy named Leo, who's Scandinavian, gave these and I enjoy these because I think there's they cut through and really help us to see some things. But but here they are real quickly. If communication can fail, it will. That's the first principle. I think you can feel these as we go through. Um. If he's given a half a chance to fail, it will, according to studies, if I'm careless or if I'm indifferent or if I'm unskilled at communication, it will fail 95% of the time. One of the greatest effects of original sin in Genesis 33 was the breakdown of communication. It's interesting. In 1952, a guy named Roethlisberger wrote, When we think about many barriers to personal communication, particularly those due to differences in background experience and motivation, it seems extraordinary that any two people can ever understand each other. That was in 1952. More recently, a guy named John Gambaro made this comment on Roethlisberger's statement. In 1952, he wrote, If in 1952, Roethlisberger thought it extraordinary that any two people could communicate, given their differences in background, experience and motivation, he would surely have thought it a miracle today.

[00:02:15] And that's true. So if communication can fail, it will. So that's why we've got to really work on this. Secondly, nature is against us. If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just that way which does the most harm. Misprints. Misunderstandings. Noise. All have multiplier effects. Rather than canceling each other out. They just build one upon another. The filters that we use to listen. How many of you have had an email that you've sent that has been misinterpreted in the last six months? Anybody not had an email that you sent in the last six months has been misinterpreted by someone. So it's either sending or receiving that we deal with this. So the third then law is there's always somebody who knows better than you what you meant by your message. You know, oftentimes as a leader, I find myself wrongly interpreted. People wrongly interpret what I say. And my response often is, you know, I wish I was just smart enough to have been thinking what you thought I was thinking when I said what I said. But the truth is, I'm just not that smart. And so the reality, though, is that people attach meaning to your messages that that simply often are not there. The fourth is the more communication there is, the more difficult it is for communication to succeed. Now, that would seem to be the opposite of what is true. But our information processing capacity is limited and the amount of information is increasing so rapidly that it's impossible to keep up with. The result is overload. Um, often not systematically is just stuff random that's coming at you. And so it's we have to select the information to retain and we're going to get into retention in a moment.

[00:04:26] But what information do we retain? We're making judgment about judgments about that hundreds, if not thousands of times every day. So furthermore, it's naive to think that increased communication is always better, that people will automatically trust each other more when they communicate more. In fact, matter is, if that were all true, then all wars could be avoided if we just communicate a little bit more. Too much information may be just as bad or worse than too little information. Sometimes to avoid conflict, it's better for you not to know what I'm thinking. If I may not know everything you're thinking, and that's just a fact of life. Then finally, I love this one. This is. This follows a mathematical law of causal relationships. It simply says the importance of an event is inversely correlated with the square of distance. What does that mean? Simply means that a fistfight between the colleagues in the cubicle next to me is more important than a flood in northern India that kills 3000 people. So that which is in close to me is more important in terms of communication than that which is distance from me. And that's a principle of communication that we keep in mind as we work with others in this process of conflict. So the reason communication is difficult in the church is the same reason it's difficult in the family. Marriage counselors tell us, of course, that the leading cause and the high rate of divorce today is due to the failure of husbands and wives to communicate effectively. A recent youth poll indicated that at least half of all young people think that communication between themselves and their parents is very poor. Now, we could discuss a lot of issues related to enhancing communication.

[00:06:10] But as we focus on conflict, I'd like to focus on two essential skills for all responsible communication. If all of us could learn and consistently apply these two skills. I believe many of our, if not most of our conflict would be minimized, if not avoided altogether. These skills have had a major impact on my life. Let me tell you how. Back in 1992. I was pastoring a church in New York just outside the city, and a man who I think at the time was about 60 years old began attending Our church is not a believer, uh, had not been charged. His whole adult life had been an Episcopal when he was a child, but began coming to our church because his wife was singing in the choir. He was a communications expert and in fact, an executive coach in New York City working for some of the big corporations. And they were paying him massive dollars to help their CEOs to overcome their communication problems because they figured if they paid him $700 an hour, it was a cheap compared to what it would take to replace their CEO. So I would go to from time to time with events from him for a half, you know, 2 hours in a night, you know, the $7,000 fee that he would pay. So it was this enormous communications thing that he was doing. He came and he began attending our church, and he sat there for two years and was not a Christian, would stand up on our Sunday evening services and say, I'm not a Christian, but I'm on my way. I mean, that's the kind of communicator he was. Pete and I became friends. We began to meet every other week just for breakfast.

[00:07:56] And, you know, having just relationship together, he began to invite me to play golf. And so we began to play golf on a regular basis, became friends. Finally, one Monday morning after the Sunday that he he was in church and I was speaking, he invited me over to his home on Thursday evening. He said, I want you to come over on Thursday evening. And I said, What time? He said, About 730. I said, So is there some reason? He said, Yeah, I won't accept Christ. And so I came to his home that evening and and he accepted Christ. It was about a 15 minute deal. He's been following Christ ever since. He's written a book that was on the New York Times bestseller list in the business section called Be Your Own Coach, in which he cites Philip Yancey And these because of the impact the crisis had upon his life since then. Two weeks after he became a Christian, Pete invited me out to to to breakfast again. And we were sitting there and he said, Ricky said. He said. I really appreciate the investment that you've made in my life, he said. And I just want to tell you, you're a pretty decent speaker. They said, It's time for me to tell you you are a lousy listener. You know, I was kind of taken back and said, What do you mean, I'm a lousy listener? That was the first clue that I'm a lousy listener, by the way. But that I said that. And he said, well, he began to explain a few things, but then he said, look, he said, I said that because I'm a I'm a new believer. It been just two or three weeks. And he said, I'll tell you what he said, if you will, disciple me in the ways of following Jesus.

[00:09:34] He said, I'll disciple you in in, in communication, in learning to listen specifically. And I can say, you know, I've been through a lot of education over the years. I've had a lot of workshops and seminars. But what Pete gave to me over the next couple of years is one of the most profound gifts in terms of my own leadership that I've ever had. And so what I want to share with you over these next few minutes is, is some of the gift that he gave to me during those years to help me to understand what this is about. Have I have I mastered it? Absolutely not. This is an ongoing, lifelong journey. But I'm better. I was. Thank the Lord and my wife thanks the Lord, too, for that. Peacemaking. Communication requires a couple of things. It it requires a two major skills. In fact, it requires what what we refer to as responsible listening. And responsible speaking that that may seem real simple, but it's not simple at all. Let me define responsible listening for you. It goes like this I accept responsibility for understanding what other people say, no matter how poorly they communicate. I accept responsibility. And Pete would say, I accept 100% responsibility. I just kind of balk at that. But he's a specialist, and so maybe I should put that as well. But I accept responsibility for understanding what other people say, no matter how poorly they communicate. What that really means is that. Is that when when I'm when I take responsibility to hear what other people are saying. It's not just hearing them. But here's the key. It's about proving to them what I've heard them say. I proved to other people, to the other person, that I understand their total message.

[00:11:40] Example. You know, I'm sitting with my wife sometimes in the evening after work, and we're sitting there and the TV's on, and she begins telling me about her day and it hurt her chair, her favorite chairs sort of to my right. I'm over here on the left and we're sort of facing the TV, sort of sort of sort of kind of toward each other, but toward a TV to, you know, how it goes. And so we're sitting there and and she begins telling me about something that's happening in her day. And and I'm I've got my eye on Diane Sawyer. You know, I'm watching this thing that's going on on the television. And finally, I notice maybe I don't know, mainly, but I know she just stops talking. And and, you know, I noticed that after about 10 seconds that it's quiet. And I said, So what's the rest of it? And she said, You aren't listening to me. I said, I was listening to you. And she sometimes comes back and says, okay, you weren't listening to me. If you were listening to me, what'd I say? And so, you know, I try to give it back as best I can. The problem there, whether or not I get it right, the reality is I wasn't proving to her that I was hearing what she was saying. That's the key point. Trust is built when we prove to the other person that we hear their total message. And when we when we move into that process, when we think about conflict, that begins to build a level of trust that was before that time nonexistent. Because trust is built when the other person is is certain that we've heard what they're really saying. And that's how you get to that.

[00:13:26] The big part of the crocodile under the water. Oftentimes.


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