In my recent radio interview with Tedd Tripp I asked Tedd to give four truths that he believes are important for families in today’s world. The first two truths were 1) understanding the importance of formative instruction and 2) establishing a biblical view of authority. Next we will consider Tedd’s third point: communication. Communicating biblically is crucial if parental authority is to be effective in achieving God’s objectives. It is one thing to establish that authority is needed. It is another to communicate that authority in a loving and engaging way. The parent who says in an angry voice, “You must obey me. God says so!” is not communicating in a helpful way. The Scriptures teach that pleasant words promote instruction (e.g. Proverbs 16:20-24). Loving, firm and confident communication is an essential aspect of parental authority.
In our interview Tedd went immediately to Ecclesiastes 9:17:
The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
Pleasant words are not loud words. This passage in Ecclesiastes brings needed insight to understanding communication. As Tedd pointed out, when a shouting match occurs, authority is effectively lost. In a family setting, shouting and screaming to prove a point indicates frustration, uncertainty and a lack of confidence. Loud words in such a situation will not be heeded by the heart. Loud words may win outward compliance based upon fear, frustration or resignation, but they will not win the heart. Just as a tyrannical ruler may shout down his subjects to win the moment, but not win their loyalty, a parent who prevails in a shouting match has not really established biblical authority. By contrast, a quiet voice is one that is confident of the authority it represents. A quiet voice demonstrates understanding that God’s authority is the issue. This means the direction given must be rooted in Scripture and not the personal convenience or whim of the parent. Therefore, the personal offense that frequently accompanies a loud, angry response is not appropriate. Loud speech will not make God’s Word any more true. The goal is not to win an argument in order to lead your children to trust Christ. Loud, angry words are do not encourage or build up. Loud words do not communicate compassion and concern for the hearer.
Too often when there is a conflict, voices become loud. Along with Ecclesiastes 9:17, Proverbs 15:1 teaches that a soft answer turns away wrath. Loud volume typically indicates that something other than love for God and his direction is driving communication. Please give this some thought. In the next post we will examine the second issue that Tedd raised about communication – too many words.