Who are the people in your life you are the most teachable towards? Why? What about them enables you to learn from them? Who are the people in your life you find yourself resistant to when they offer you advice? Why?
The Lord has given me 13 years experience of discipling over 150 women. During those years I have made more mistakes than most but by the Lord's grace, He's enabled me to learn from them. From my experience and seeing how my own heart responds to some people and resists teaching of others, I've come to recognize these 3 helpful tips to help people relate well with those they disciple.
1. Listen and draw out all the information before sharing your thoughts. I've read multiple studies which say the majority of people don't want unsolicited advice. Which makes sense. When I share something with my husband, I don't want him to fix it right then. I want to get it all out and then I want to know he understands. I want to hear him say something like, "So you feel like _________." When he really understands where I'm coming from, it's like a heavy weight of frustration drops from my shoulders and brings a sigh of relief and freedom. After he lets me know he knows where I'm coming from, then I want to know what he would do. And usually his understanding brings me to a point of asking what he would do if he were in my situation.
When we feel listened to and understood we then want to know what someone else thinks. All of a sudden their unwanted unsolicited advice becomes wanted. If we want to be effective in helping others grow we can't just correct and advice-vomit on people. It's more hurtful than helpful. Wisdom says to not offer advice and correction before drawing out all the information and understanding what a person may be feeling. "The purpose in a man's mind is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out." Proverbs 20:5
If you want people to receive what you have to say, you have to say things in a way and in a time that they are able to receive it. Offering your thoughts before they feel like you understand where they are coming from will most likely lead to internally resisting what you are sharing.
2. Communicate with gentleness and respect. 1 Pet. 3:15 and Col. 3:12 (among other verses) talk about the importance of communicating with gentleness and respect. Wasn't Jesus amazing at this? (Except for talking to the Pharisees, whose hard hearts kept them from humility.) He was so gentle, even to the worst of sinners, like the adulterous lady and prostitute who poured oil on His feet. Each person, no matter if they act like it or not, has been made in the image of God which gives them eternal worth and dignity.
Get this - the word for respect in 1 Peter is phóbos (from phebomai, "to flee, withdraw") – fear, withdrawal, fleeing because feeling inadequate. (Taken from Biblos.com my favorite online study resource.) When we communicate with others, does our tone of voice and body language lead to someone feeling inadequate and wanting to get out of the conversation?
Oh Lord, help us be women who use our words, tone of voice and body language to benefit and bless others. Help us be women who communicate with gentleness and respect.
3. Offer praise liberally. The majority of women's internal thought life is condemning. We ladies can be so down on ourselves. So really, we don't need others telling us every second we don't measure up or correcting our every mistake. On the other hand, seeing when we do something well is something we ladies can so often doubt or not see as something we truly are good at. When someone affirms our character or skills, it's life-giving. Jesus was a beautiful example to us. He was praising people all the time. He praised all kinds of people for their faith. And if Jesus, perfect God in flesh, can offer praise liberally to broken, imperfect people, surely we can too.
Which one of these is the hardest for you? What would it look like for you to intentionally trust God and act on it?
Laura, the creator and host of Missional Women is married to her best friend Austin, and has three kids, two of who are adopted. They have been missionaries to college students for the last 11 years and currently serve in Denver Colorado with Master Plan Ministries. Laura loves to speak to women's and college groups and wrote an in-depth Bible study, Beholding Him, Becoming Missional which goes through First Samuel. You can find her on facebook,twitter, youtube, instagram and pinterest.
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