Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Don't Be A Wet Blanket!
Fresh Manna© by Pastor Tim Burt
Jeremiah 23:28 (NLT) “Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between chaff and wheat!”
When our children were between the ages of one and two, there was a game Renee and I would play with them. We’d play “face.” We’d coach them to put on different facial expressions. We’d have them do a happy face, a sad face, a shy face, scared face, a surprised face, and many more. (We made up some unique faces!) The kids were so cute as they learned to do their different faces and it actually helped us later on. We’d instruct them to take off their “pouting face” and instead put on their “happy face” when they had a bad attitude. It worked. It helped them change their face which then helped them to change their attitude. Overall it was fun, instructive, and practical in training them in behavioral attitudes.
Young children are so wonderfully pliable and teachable at this young age that it’s truly a joy to teach and instruct them. I’ve often wished I could play this game with different adults around me in various settings. “Hey, you might not like my decision but take off that pouting face and put on a happy face.” It may be a fun thought but it wouldn’t be too practical in working with adults.
Facial expressions and body language are a huge part of how we communicate in life. I wish I could have seen the faces in the crowds of those that sat and listened to Jesus in His day. I’m sure I would have seen the Pharisees and Sadducees mostly scowling in anger with jealously over the fact that the people loved to listen to this carpenter more than them. I am sure some would have been sitting on the edge of their rock clinging to every word He spoke with their mouth open in literal awe of the wisdom with which He spoke. Others with tender hearts would have had and sad faces feeling conviction for the truths they had been violating as He spoke – “Love your enemies. Do good to those that hate you.” Others would have had every facial expression in between.
Facial expressions are usually the outward expression of what we are thinking in our mind or feeling in our heart. We are often in situations – husband and wife times, one on one friendship times, employee meetings, small groups, etc. where we have to listen to people express their heart and ideas. In any of these places, your facial expressions and body language will either read, bored, interested, excited, humorous, disagreement, disgust, or something you feel. Many of those negative facial expressions need to be held in check. They have the power to shut people down. When a negative facial expression comes prematurely because you think you know what they are going to say before they have even had the opportunity to express themselves, you can anger them and shut them down. This is a common complaint in marital counseling. “You never listen to what I’m going to say. You sneer and role your eyes. You show no respect for my ideas!”
Most people have no clue as to what their facial expressions and body language look like or how they play out in their communication. You should become more aware. Your facial expressions will affect conversations, either negatively or positively. They will actually draw people out or shut people down.
One really good reason for understanding this is because we are all made to communicate ourselves. We are all made to have ideas, thoughts, suggestions, and dreams and express them. Expressing them is a part of what helps keep us healthy. You want to give others the same freedom to share as you yourself need. Your facial expression and verbal’s might make you the proverbial wet blanket – the one that shuts down everyone’s dreams.
Today’s Fresh Manna verse says, “Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between chaff and wheat!” God says that we should let even people that don’t communicate right or truthful things speak. He trusts that we will seek truth and learn and come to know the difference between the wheat and chaff – between what has value and what should be thrown out. He doesn’t say be a wet blanket and shut people’s thoughts or comments down because you don’t like them.
Having respect for people’s ideas and opinions is a key part of good communication. God gives people thoughts and ideas that could make good suggestions. People that are prideful or wet blankets immediately express their opinions before those ideas are even fully expressed and shut the person down. This creates great resentment and breaks down good and honest and open communication. It stifles creativity and imagination. It hinders answers to things God is trying to bring forth – all because of someone’s quickly formed negative and expressed response or facial expression.
People like to dream. Dreaming is good. Most people don’t take their dreams too far because as they think them through, they realize at some point the negatives themselves. They don’t need someone to shut them down. They shut down the majority of their own dreams through procrastination, through analysis and discovered flaws in their idea, or because it was something just thought of in a whim that only carried temporary motivation. Most dreams fall to the ground. Don’t you be guilty of contributing to that. Be guilty of listening, being open, and when it feels right giving encouragement toward ideas and dreams. Otherwise, simply be respectful and accepting of their right to express themselves.
Ask someone to watch your facial expression in a meeting some time. Ask someone close to you if you are a wet blanket that stifles someone else’s thoughts or if you are respectful and encourage ideas and creativity. Then you will walk in the wisdom of Proverbs 8:12 “I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.” You will be able to respectfully listen and draw the good from people. You will grow in discernment, learning to distinguish between the wheat and the chaff – the good and the bad. Smile and listen.
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2007 Tim Burt, All rights reserved.