It poisons conversations. It steals into nearly every Facebook debate. It train-wrecks biblical one-anothering. And it’s present in 100% of broken relationships.
There isn’t an unbruised holiday, a unscarred hour, or an unsoiled event. Even in the midst of the most loving conversations, lies, silent treatment, screams, propaganda, cutting words, manipulation, and vitriol have appeared from thin air as suddenly and explosively as a Las Vegas magician.
We’re all guilty.
But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could eradicate the needless communication problems listed above in order to focus on the really important things? Instead of unraveling a knot of lies, we could seek forgiveness and restoration. Instead of disarming an exploding temper, we focus on points of agreement. Instead of throwing verbal hand grenades designed to decimate our opponents, we could reason our ways toward a solution.
To this end, I’d like to share this simple tool, and I pray it will be beneficial for your family both in both learning to communicate correctly and being reminded to communicate correctly.
I call it the “Communication House.”
It works like this:
- All communication from all family members at all times must “stay inside the house.”
- If any family members “leave the house” with their words, the discussion must immediately change to getting the family members’ communication back “in the house.” The initial topic of conversation cannot move forward as long as even one person refuses to talk about it “inside the house.”
- If the family member(s) refuses to return to the house, one of two things must happen.
- The conversation must end until everyone can discuss it “in the house,”
- Or the family member whose communication is “outside the house” must stay quiet and listen until they’re ready to communicate “in the house.”
- Assuming all family members either stay “in the house” or return “to the house,” the conversation can continue in a Christ-honoring way.
So, what’s all this “house” stuff?
The Communication House is built like this:
- The Foundation of the House is Truth.
- All communication must be honest. “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.” Proverbs 12:22. No lying allowed. This includes intentional and accidental lying. If I get angry and say, “My life is terrible!” I’ve just lied. If I got what I deserved, I would be in Hell. But my God is gracious and has given me a life infinitely greater than what I deserve. I’m also surrounded by people who love me in a comfortable home with toys and clothes that are luxurious compared to billions of people in the world. My life is not terrible, and I should not be allowed to lie about it. And even if I were to live in the vilest slum, hunted like an animal, and beaten within a hair of consciences . . . it would still be better than what I deserved.
- All communication must align to God’s revealed Truth. “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.” Proverbs 23:23 “The sum of [God’s] word is truth” Proverbs 119:60a. I may be being honest when I say I believe it’s okay to be angry when people mistreat me. But God’s revealed in His Word that we’re never to respond selfishly. In fact, when people mistreat us, we’re to love them all the more. Our words must conform to God’s philosophy of life in order to be “truthful.”
- The Four Walls of the Home are Constructed in Love.
- Love is Humble (I Corinthians 13:4-5). Loving communication isn’t “me-versus-you.” Loving communication doesn’t brag or boast. It doesn’t display self-worship by insisting on its own way. Humble communication focuses on others and apologizes when it stops being humble.
- Love is Patient (I Corinthians 13:4). Loving communication “suffers long.” It doesn’t lose it’s temper or give the silent treatment when it doesn’t get what it wants.
- Love is Kind (I Corinthians 13:4, 7; Colossians 4:6). Loving communication builds people up. It’s encouraging, friendly, and gracious. Loving communication gives the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t say hurtful things or “joke” in a way that tears people down. It also speaks Truth because it knows that lying to people about life is the most hateful thing to do. Therefore, it shines the light of the gospel to all it meets.
- Love is Forgiving (Ephesians 4:32). People who humbly acknowledge how patient, kind, and forgiving their Savior’s been with them, have no problem forgiving those who sin against them.
- The Roof of the Home Points toward God. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do [communicate with your family], do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31
- Christ-honoring communication understands it will never accidentally glorify God, so it deliberately seeks to.
- People whose communication is founded on Truth and built in Love cannot say anything that displeases the Lord. It’s the fulfillment of Augustine’s vision of a mature Christian: “Love God and [say] whatever you want.”
You see, we “leave the house” every time we lie, every time we’re unloving, and every time we have any goal other than God’s glory. Those conversations never work. They always end in relational carnage.
And I think you’re observant enough to see the real beauty of The Communication House. I suggested earlier that communicating “in the house” allows your family to focus on the more important issues instead of being distracted by the sins of the mouth. But if we really communicate in God’s way for God’s reasons . . . there won’t be any “other issues”!
Staying “in the house” is the greatest win-win for every relationship because it affects every facet of life and applies in every situation!
I’ve included an image below that visually represents these truths. I encourage you to print it out, maybe even frame it, and post it in a central location in your home (or multiple if necessary) in order to remind your family to keep their communication “in the house.”
Download a higher quality image by clicking here. Then click “View full size” in the bottom right-hand corner and save to your desktop.