Spiritual Blindness: Why don't they get it?

Spiritual Blindness new

Spiritual Blindness:  Why don’t they get it?

by Steve Huerd
One of the greatest moments in a teacher’s life is when their students “get it” and the light bulb comes on.  Sometimes you can see it in their faces, in their assignments or perhaps in their review of your course.  There’s something inherently satisfying seeing tangible evidence that you made a difference in someone’s life.
But what happens when they don’t get it and you can’t seemto get through to that young mind?  You know the truth you are sharing is critical to their understanding, yet they just don’t seem ready to hear it.
As teachers in Christian education, we are like the Apostle Paul who said to the Corinthians, “we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truth to those who are spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:13).
Last week I was teaching a large group of high school students in a foreign country on a mission trip and I desperately wanted to share the gospel with them.  However, the national staff told me if I did this publicly in this way, it would not be received well by the students due to cultural differences.  They might be open to hearing it one-on-one but not in a large group setting, and especially if I preached it to them.
I consented, relinquishing my own ambitions, and shared only a small portion of my personal testimony regarding the importance of God in my life.  Immediately afterward two of their national staff thanked me for planting the seed in the student’s minds and said my approach was very effective.
Yet I struggled within myself thinking, “why can’t I just share the gospel with them…this is what they need!” Yet, the truth was simply that they were not ready to hear it in that way.  Paul likewise, experienced similar frustration with the Corinthians, “I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it” (1 Cor. 3:2). Even Jesus, in speaking to the disciples, had to curtail his teaching, “I still have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12).
As Christian teachers, we should be aware of the limits of our teaching upon young believer’s hearts. Sometimes our students are just not ready to hear all the wisdom and insight we have to offer them.  therefore we must make adjustments in our teaching when appropriate.  These somewhat painful and inconvenient adjustments should flow from our love for our students. When they are not ready to hear, we must limit ourselves as teachers so as not to overburden them.  No one learns calculus in first grade and no one can “comprehend the thoughts of God except of the Spirit of God.”

The Golden Tongued Orator: What v. How You Say It

In Christian history, one of the greatest speakers was known to be Chrysostom, the fourth century Church Father and Bishop of Constantinople.  Chrysostom was known as the “Golden Tongued Orator.”
Chrysostom was a champion of great speaking and was known to deliver the best content.
As a minister and professor, no doubt, I place a high degree of importance on the “content” of my message or lecture.
But some speakers pay attention to WHAT they will say to the neglect of HOW they say it.  In fact, some speakers have consistently neglected the development of greater speaking skill and even criticize good speaking and good speakers AS IF those speakers are less serious about their content than the less-than-stellar speaker.  That’s too bad. 
Speaking prowess is more important than one may think.  Don’t take that to mean that HOW WELL we speak is “more important” than what we say… but it’s naive to neglect your speaking and to underestimate the importance of skill.
Preparing to Speak
Lots of preachers, teachers, and speakers of all types spend a dozen or two dozen hours of preparation for their talk, only to spend all or nearly all of it on the CONTENT (exegesis, outline, etc.) without spending much on technique or method.  Why is that?
A book I was reading on speaking a while back reported that 93% of our impact in speaking is related to the EMOTION-PASSION and PROWESS of the speaker.  Having said that, while the “raw material” itself is crucial and all-important, that content may or may not be heard and hindered by the listener if the speaker cannot deliver the goods so it can be heard and received, then applied
The truth is that a speaker simply doesn’ t have 10 or 20 minutes to sell the audience.  In fact, you don’t have even 5 minutes.  Your  first impression is made in seconds, not minutes.  So to command an audience, you need to sell your stuff up front– hook the listener quickly, then bring the bacon.
In other words— as a speaker, bring the HEAT, then bring the MEAT.

Power Communication


Understanding the Importance of Communication Savvy
Perhaps the two most important aspects of most information-laden professions and leadership in general are (1) becoming a strong writer and (2) becoming a strong speaker.  This is because of the importance and priority of communication and its central role in leadership and life.
Today I want to share what a power communicator must have.  There was a resource offered a number of years ago that referenced this concept, but I’d like to unpack these ideas a little more here.
Those of us who put food on the table through our teaching/preaching/speaking think a lot about communication.  And as an educator, I spend time considering how to help undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral pastoral and ministry students become the best communicators they can possibly be.  I want to bring balance to the issue by highlighting three enormously important issues for communicators and those who train them.
Three Components of Power Communicators
To become a power communicator capable of shaking the earth, three power principles must be mastered:
1. Substance
2. Soul
3. Sizzle
1. Substance
There are those who sometimes teach or speak who are entertaining to hear, but who fail to deliver the goods.  When life (or people, time, resources, business, money, influence, whatever your thing) is on the line, the one thing you must do is put the cookies on the bottom shelf.  Meaning, you MUST bring home the bacon; you MUST ring the bell; you must shuck the corn.  Whatever analogy you want to employ, it’s crucial that if you’re going to speak, you have something to say.  Some people don’t.  Others think they do, but can’t produce.  Content is an enormous priority for the speaker– in many ways THE priority.   Don’t neglect the content.  Don’t abuse the message.  It’s the only reason you’re really speaking in the first place.
In addition to WHAT one says, however, is HOW one says it.  A really common and unfortunate mistake that many ineffective communicators make is to assume that CONTENT (substance) is all that really matters in speaking.  This could be a painful statement, but the people who make that false assumption are generally poor communicators.  Any strong communicator knows that connecting with an audience is by no means restricted to the substance of the talk.
2. Soul
So, in addition to substance is SOUL.  “Soul” has to do with the communicator’s inner man.  His or her inner self.  The best communicators are able to transcend the limits of language and place their very hearts on display.  They reveal primal emotions, potent convictions, and powerful attitudes.  They can release the best of their personhood and vitality in the moment of truth.  They have such a command of their ‘selfhood’ and security in their identity that they are able to project whatever their subject calls for: authority, passion, motivation, intimacy, compassion, angst, inspiration, humor, gratitude– whatever it may be, to their listeners– making them feel and think and want to do the same thing.  Without soul, we’re only talking heads.  Without soul, we have no heart.   Without soul, we’re old news– we’re just another tired talker, but not a power communicator.  Release the fullness of your best self when you step onto the platform or when you stand in that sacred desk.
3. Sizzle
Substance is a must.  Soul is indispensable.  But your speech must also sizzle.  After you’ve done the hard work of study, reflection, hermeneutics, exegesis, research, thought, meditation and speaking prep, if you are incapable of bringing the heat, you will likely lose many of your listeners.  So it’s not only what you say, but how you say it.  It’s not just being an effective speaker and having a handle on grammar and syntax.  It’s also making sure that you have a powerful command on vocabulary that you can draw from at a moment’s notice in order to paint a masterpiece to your audience or the congregation.
Can you make it “SING?”  Can you allow the Spirit of God to breathe life into that dry manuscript and make the bones live?  When you speak, does it pop?  Does it happen? Does it thrill and excite and stimulate the learner.  Does it force the listener to think, feel, and act?  The best speakers have a near hypnotic command of their audience in such a way that the person loses all track of time and, as you speak, their hearts burn within them.  Though, in Christian speaking, the power of God sometimes falls on a situation, to be sure– but do not confuse that supernatural act with the need for personal effort in selling what you say with a little sizzle.