Proverbs 25:11-15: “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given. Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear. Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him;
he refreshes the spirit of his master. Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of gifts never given. Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.”
It’s sad to say that many Christian life coaches today communicate in the same ways that worldly coaches do: inappropriate language; criticism; harsh words; and other ways that don’t reflect Christ-likeness. But Scripture does not teach that we are to communicate like the world. In fact, the Bible teaches the exact opposite. For instance, consider Eph: 4: 30-32 – “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Now, think about James 1:20-22 – “because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
An effective Christian life coach is someone who is prepared and ethical. To be prepared means to have your thoughts organized, clear, concise, and stay within respectful boundaries. To be ethical is to speak so people understand you; to speak truthfully and with integrity without control and manipulation. A strong Christian communicator treats others the way they would like to be treated (the golden rule).
A key attribute to effective communication is trustworthiness. The Book of Proverbs says that trustworthy messengers are extremely valuable. They are like snow in summer. They refresh their listeners. A trustworthy messenger delivers a message faithfully—adding nothing, deleting nothing. That is true with any message, and it is vital to communication that we understand a relationship can be at stake.
Consider the words of 2 Peter 1:16 – “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
For Christian life coaches, communication is more than just expressing views, opinions, ideas or understandings in clears ways. True Christian communication places a high value on the importance of the person. It is governed by the “one another’s” found in Scripture. The commands could be looked at as God’s code of conduct for Christian relationships. However, we do not naturally do the things that are commanded in the “one another’s.” Christian communication is a skill we must choose to learn by submitting to the Word of God and by applying it to our lives.
The following is a list of some of the “one another” commands found in the New Testament related to Christian communication:
- Love one another – John 13:34 & John 15:12,17.
- Forgive one another – Ephesians 4:32 & Colossians 3:13.
- Be servants to one another – Galatians 5:13.
- Show hospitality to one another – 1 Peter 4:7-10.
- Pray for one another – James 5:16.
- Build up (edify) one another – Romans 14:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
- Greet one another – Romans 16:16, 1 Peter 5:14.
- Forbear one another – Ephesians. 4:1-2 & Colossians 3:13-14.
- Do not judge one another – Romans 14:13.
- Do not speak evil of one another – James 4:11.
- Do not murmur against one another – James 5:9.
- Do not bite and devour one another – Galatians 5:15.
- Do not provoke and envy one another – Galatians 5:26.
- Have the same care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25-26.
- Receive one another – Romans 15:7.
- Teach one another – Colossians 3:16.
- Admonish (counsel) one another – Romans 15:14 & Colossians 3:16.
- Submit to one another – Ephesians 5:21-22.
- Confess your sins to one another – James 5:16.
- Do not lie to one another – Colossians 3:9.
- Be kind to one another – Ephesians 4:32.
- Comfort one another – 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11.
Note: As you read through this list, pick out any of the scriptures that are hard for you, and ask yourself, “Why do I struggle with ….”? This is also a great exercise to use with your coachees.
You may have notices that every Scripture reference in the list above begins and ends with the first one. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another” (John 13:34). The love of Christ is the catalyst for effective life coaching communication with all coachees.
It is interesting to note that the word “communication” can refer not only to coaching clients, but to a Christian’s entire manner of life. Living and communicating according to the “one another” commands allows us to become “doers of the word and not just hearers” (James 1:22), letting to the world around us know that we are children of our Father.
The “one another” scriptures are all rooted in Ephesians 4: 17-32. For instance, consider vs.29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” As a Christian life coach, godly communication encompasses that which edifies and builds up your clients and endears you to non-believers. Intentional, godly speech can be called “principled speech.” This requires the intentional use of higher biblical principles to govern our communication.
Practical Use of Principles
Here is a great 4-step system you can use yourself, and the help your coaches with their communication:
- Speak only truth
- Stay current
- Edify others
- Think before talking
Whether in a life coaching session, or anytime you engage in conversation, it is pertinent to ask yourself, “Am I violating any of these principles?” If so, then changes must be made to the words you use.
Practicing these guidelines is not easy. For instance, consider “speak only truth.” This requires you to abandon using black and white words such as “you always.”, or, “you never.” No person is consistently “always” something, so it becomes a lie to say, “You always exaggerate,” or, “You always lie to me.”
Instead, when you speak only the truth you are obligated to use more accurate speech, and therefore you are less unintentionally antagonistic or offensive communication. For example, if your coachee is upset with their spouse, instead of saying, “You never fill the car with gas,” you could help you coachee see the benefit of saying, “Yesterday, you did not fill the car with gas; didn’t we agree you would?”
The more specific and precise (and more truthful) our communication is, the less volatile the situation may become, which leads to less defensiveness and more openness.
Whether in a Christian life coaching session, or in everyday life, if we would contemplate and take the time to memorize each of four principles of speech, and apply them in our daily lives, we would see remarkable changes within ourselves and in the responses of others. Grace will fill our words; mercy will cover faults; forgiveness will permeate our communication; and truthfulness, even though it can be painful, will reap great benefits in conduct and character.
Here are the four principles of speech, with biblical guidelines to practice on a daily basis and incorporate over a lifetime:
1) Speak only truth (Eph.4:25)
- Eliminate black and white words (you always…, you are a…, your style is…, you never…). No one is always something, making any such 100% accusatory statements into a lie.
- No name calling (name calling is the same as using 100% words – Matthew 5:22)
- No intentional lies
- No exaggerations (shopping or fishing stories may be exempt 😊)
2) Keep current (Eph.4:26, 27)
- Don’t let the sun set, or the church service start, before you handle a relationship problem
- Do not keep a list of offenses (1 Corinthians 13:5), handle each offense as it comes up
3) Edify others—do not attack (Eph.4:29, 30)
- The goal of instruction is love (1 Timothy 1:5)
- The goal of discipline is to win repentance (2 Corinthians 2:6-8)
- Do not intervene in the argument between two other people (Prov. 26:17)
- Remember that we are all sinners (1 Corinthians 6:11)
4) Think before speaking (Proverbs 25:8)
- Be slow to anger and slow to speak (James 1:19)
- Hear the other person before you rebuke them (Prov. 18:13)
- Be forgiving (Ephs.4:32)
Effective Christian communication and principled speech may seem hard to learn at first. However, as with most things, practice leads to proficiency, and practicing communication skills on a daily basis will lead to Christlikeness, which should be the goal of every Christian throughout their lives.