As you perhaps read from my previous blog, I am co-writing a book on developing strong and effective governing local church, college and not-for-profit boards. The title of the chapter I have recently completed in draft form is Watch Your Words. I talk about the power of our words spoken in board meetings to bless or to “curse.” Our words can even be destructive. In biblical perspective, however, our words are to be grace giving, and focused on the others with whom we are speaking.

I seek your comments on the chapter. I must reduce the number of words I use in the draft, so your perspective will assist me. I need examples of words used in board meetings that have been sacramental or grace-giving. I look forward to your comments. Click here to read the draft chapter.

LeBron Fairbanks


Jock October 24, 2011

Keep it ciomng, writers, this is good stuff.

Gene McBride March 11, 2011

I would agree that focusing this chapter on improving our speech can make a positive impact in prevent hurting each by what we say. However, I fear that despite our best efforts, we will still have moments when our words (or lack of them) hurt. Another question to consider that is post-speech reflective is: “How well would I have received what I said and how I said it?” Perhaps even this question could be modified to be considered prior to speaking.

I’m struggling with the practical application of considering all of these excellent perspectives on how to make our words more “grace-full” while engaging in conversation with someone in real-time. However, we have a biblical admonition to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Notice that 2 of those 3 admonitions deal with how we receive what others say to us. I’ve seen to many people looking down at their mobile communications device while someone was talking to/with them. With so many demands on our attention, listening is to one another is becoming a greater challenge in our time. While I could be hurt or angered by what someone says to me, we are challenged here to not let that be our first reaction. Being slow to anger, should cause us to pause and consider that the speaker may not have really meant what was said in the hurtful way that I heard it, and to give them the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, there are those times when there is no doubt that the speaker meant to lash out with his/her words.

A couple of editing things I noticed that can remove some words are:

“Our Speech Must Be Devotional”: Paragraph 3 final sentence is the same as Paragraph 1. If you’re looking to cut words, one of those could be removed.

“Talking Past Each Other”: Paragraph 1, next to last sentence is repeating the last phrase of that sentence.

Overall, this chapter is filled with biblically sound, convicting and encouraging instruction.


Rich Shockey March 2, 2011

What you have said here is important. Many of the goals of the work of a board may not be accomplished until we learn to communicate with one another and recognize that our words carry significant weight–both to build up and to destroy. I especially like your emphasis on our words as sacramental, since the Word (with a capital ‘W”) gives us a sort of archetypal view of “logos” as sacrament–the ultimate means of grace to the world.

I know you are looking for ways to slim down what you already have, so I may not be helpful in that regard! However, I have been reflecting on exactly what it is that moves us in our board meetings towards this destructive speech, unfair communication tactics and “talking past each other” that you mention. All of these things are secondary behaviors that seem to be primarily motivated by some insecurity in one or more of the people involved. And, rooted in insecurity is often a lack of trust. If one person does not believe that the other person has their (or God’s) best interest at heart, there is often an automatic defensiveness and shutdown of communication.

Of course, the building trust has to happen in the places *outside* of the board room. By loving and serving one another in our lives together outside, we are then able to proceed with a certain level of trust inside. This same principle is involved in other areas of interpersonal communication as well, particularly in the marriage relationship.


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