Last week I went to the VA hospital for my annual checkup. I’ve been there enough to know the routine, so when the nurse called my name I walked down the hall and stepped on the scales. The nurse said, “Weight!” I replied: “Ok.” Then she said, “Weight! Weight!” I replied: “I’m on the scales are you wanting to check my weight or are you wanting me to wait while you check on something?”
This incident was interesting for a couple of reasons. First the nurse made the assumption that the message she sent was the message I received. From my understanding of her instructions, I thought I was being compliant; however, from her perspective I was being obstinate.
When the nurse was speaking to me, she made the all too common mistake of thinking that information and communication are one and the same. We can give a person some information; however, if the information is not understood, there is no communication.
The effectiveness of communication is enhanced when a person’s words are congruent with his actions. I think this is what Stephen Covey meant when he said: “In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.”
Consistent character benefits clear communication, and James speaks of this in connection to faith and works:
“Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, ‘Sounds good. You take care of the faith department; I’ll handle the works department.’ Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove” ~The Message James 2:14-18
Do the words of your life and the actions of your life fit together “hand in glove,” or are they as mismatched and pair-less as two left-handed gloves?