Recently I purchased a video projector, large screen, a Blu-ray player, and a sound system to show movies in the context of a group of thirty to forty people for a new program in my work with college students. Always one to be prepared, as well as anxious to check out the new purchases, I decided to take the new equipment home and try it out to make sure everything worked. After an hour of unpacking, untwisting wires, and connecting everything together I was ready for my test. Great screen! Great picture! But audio, it came from the projector, but not from the sound system. I checked my connections multiple times; it all looked good to me. I tried various cables and every option I could think of. Nothing worked. I thought how unimpressive it would be to show a movie on a big screen with a little sound that require us to huddle quiet as a group around the projector.
Unable to figure out the problem myself I spoke with John and Matt, the media guys at the college. Seems my problem was that I had a digital source from the Blu-ray player going to an analog sound system. I was right, it didn’t work, nor should it have. John explained you need a special box that takes the input from the player device and separates out the audio to be able to talk to the analog sound system (of course he said it with a great deal of knowledge and techy words).
A few days later I got thinking, maybe that’s what we need as we are talking with people sometimes. The challenge of communication is that we all think we have communicated clearly, often to discovery there was a mishearing, a misinterpretation, or a mistaken assumption that in essence left our digital signal unable to be heard rightly by a analog listener (or vice versa). I suppose we could all go around with an interpreter or a counselor all day to check to see that we are properly encoding our words and decoding those of others. Maybe though, the real device we need in communication with others; whether family, boyfriends and girlfriends, professors, coaches, teammates, or people with live with in dorms or in the carpool, is the simple advice of James 1:19. James says:
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
What if the decoder we need is within us, a heart and mind that we develop with the help of the Holy Spirit? What is we committed ourselves to “listen” first and foremost with the goal of understanding others and then spoke slowly with graciousness and humility. I wonder if all our communication would be better and all of our relationships would be closer if this were in our heart and intentions as we converse with others. God, help us to apply James 1:19 and communicate with others better this week. Amen.