Sermon Notes

September 16th – I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FAMILY (Communication)

Read an article and the first line was “Most families have trouble communicating from time to time.”  My first reaction, “Most HUMANS have trouble communicating MUCH of the time.”  It’s not because we don’t want to communicate.  I don’t think the majority of people don’t want to listen and learn and grow (although there are folks that just don’t…they don’t know and you can’t tell them)…but communication is difficult because we are uniquely and wonderfully made, with equally unique life experiences that develop a lens through which we see and hear and interpret ALL things.

When I was in school a professor once said, “As soon as the words leave your mouth, flow from the pen, are typed and sent…they literally no longer belong to you.  They are at the whim of interpretation and you have no control.”  This thought terrifies and frees me at the same time.

We all have different communication styles that are mostly shaped through our childhood and then managed over time.  There are people that study communication and make a living helping families and companies and organization understand how people communicate.  But what happens communication happens between several people consistently…in like a company, an office, or a family?  These styles of communication are actually in their own category.

Family communication can be divided into two different areas: instrumental (facts) and affective (feelings). Instrumental communication is the exchange of factual information that enables individuals to fulfill common family functions (e.g.,

). Affective communication is the way individual family members share their emotions and feelings with one another (e.g., sadness, anger, joy).

Some families function extremely well with instrumental (facts) communication, yet have great difficulty with affective (feelings & emotional) communication. Healthy families are able to communicate well in both areas.

But even within those two categories we encounter “styles”/“types” of family communication.  And these become “the way we communicate”…ever warned anyone about your family when they are about to meet them? “Hey…we all know Uncle Joe ______, but we don’t say anything about it.” or “Just so you know, my family teases each other a ton/makes fun of people.”

Families have “rules” and “roles” and “scripts” that we fall into, even without thinking.  

Families have “tales” and “myths” and “family legends”…stories we tell over and over, some family members get set on a pedestal, while others get the “well that’s just so and so…”

All these things form a culture of communication 

(no different than in an office, or church, or other organization.)


There are basically two different modes of communication and two different means of delivery. The modes of communication are clear and masked communication (some researchers call them open and closed), and the means of communication are direct and indirect communication.

Clear or Open communication occurs when messages are spoken plainly and the content is easily understood by other family members. Masked communication occur when the message is muddied or vague.

Communication is direct if the person spoken to is the person for whom the message is also intended to. Communication becomes indirect when the message is not directed to the person for whom it is intended.

The four styles that are created from combining these modes and means:

Clear and direct: This style of communication is healthy because it provides clear direction.    

Ex. “Kyle, you should have called to let me know you were going to be late.”

Clear and indirect: With this style, an individual is making a clear statement, but they are not talking to anyone specifically. 

Ex. “People should call when they are going to be late.”

Masked and direct: In this style, the individual speaking is talking directly to the intended individual, but they are making a general statement. 

Ex. “Hey Kyle, don’t you just hate it when someone is inconsiderate and doesn’t follow up with what they said they would do?”

Masked and indirect: This is the ultimate passive aggressive means of communication. Neither the message nor the intended recipient is clear.

Ex. “I can’t stand people today, they are never on time.”

Do any of these styles sound familiar?

Family “set-points” – why it’s difficult to change the culture of communication

When we are talking with people we often make way too many assumptions…


    • We assume people understand things they may actually legitimately not understand or know about.
    • We assume people are experiencing things the same we are.
    • We assume communication is about us or toward us (we take things too personally)
    • We assume we should be able to say something once and see change (we assume this for others but rarely for ourselves.  We forget we need to “train” a child.)

Keys to Healthy Family Communication

Video – Who is the talker, who is more contemplative and processes things internally?

Slow Down and Chose Your Words

James 1:19 “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”

Proverbs 25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

Matthew 12:37 “…for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Communicate Frequently – make and take time to talk!

    • Talk in the car, at the dinner table, have a board to write notes on, have “touch base” chats.

Start EARLY – set good patterns when kids are young (cats in the cradle / teachable moments)

Be an Active Listener!!

    • Put the phone down, turn off the TV, put down the broom, listen with your whole body
    • Don’t interrupt, don’t cut people off, don’t be thinking so much about your next great statement that you miss what is being said.

Proverbs 10:19 “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”

Seek first to understand, then to be understood. (7 habits of Highly effective people)

Cameron – Tell me everything you think I need to here, and I will not say a word till you are completely through.

Take a moment to check your heart, your agenda.

    • Are you angry? Are you jealous? Are you feeling insecure?  Where are your feelings come from and have you taken a moment to check with God?

Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” 

Psalm 37:30 “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.”

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Take a moment and consider the other side of the coin, the other person’s shoes

    • Try to see through their lens, hear with their ears, etc.

Ask Questions

    • More questions than answers…seek to understand rather than to be understood.

Proverbs 18:13 “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

Proverbs 18:2 “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

    • We understate how often Jesus asks questions.  
    • Be curious about the lives of others.
    • Ask clarifying questions. “What did you mean when you said..?” or “Did I understand you correctly?”

Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Messages

    • Learn the difference between a look of “I have been hurt” and “I have checked out.” 

Communicate Clearly and Directly – MOST IMPORTANT AND MOST RARELY DONE

Healthy families communicate their thoughts and feelings in a clear and direct manner. This is especially important when attempting to resolve problems. Indirect and vague communication will not only fail to resolve problems, but will also contribute to a lack of bonding between family members.

Learn what motivates and inspires, and what demotivates and discourages. 

    Ashley loves a challenge / Cameron loves encouragement.

Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” 

Be an Encourager (even if it doesn’t come naturally) – 

Hebrews 10:23-25 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”=

Jenn realizing she encourages others and seeks opportunities to be a blessing, to help, to send a funny and thoughtful text, so write a note…to most everyone BUT my family.  They tend to get my leftovers.  


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