Communication Skills for Leaders

11 Jun

Jethro visited the lumber yard and asked for some “four-by-twos.” Stack of Lumber

The clerk at the lumbar yard said, “You mean two-by-fours?”

Jethro said,  “Just a moment. I’ll check.” He went back to his car where his friends were sitting. They rolled down the windows and they had a short conversation. Jethro returned and answered, “Yes, I mean two-by-fours.”

Then the clerk asked him, “How long do you want them?”

Jethro said, “Just a minute. I’ll check.” He again conferred with his friends in the car for a couple of minutes, and returned to the merchant.

“A lo-o-o-o-o-ng time,” Jethro said. “We’re building a house.” *

Talk about miscommunication!

Poor communication can result in POOR RELATIONSHIPS. Bill and Pam Farrel, relationship specialists, write about communication in many of their books ~ especially communication in marriage. For example, in their book Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti (pages 35-37), they emphasize that Listening is not…

  • an attempt to understand the opposite sex,
  • an attempt to become each other’s counselor,
  • an attempt to fix your partner, or
  • a personality trait.

I (Dawn) highly recommend the Farrels books if you want to improve your relationships. They are a wealth of wise counsel. A list of their books is at

Communication is also one of the Christian’s strongest tools in ministry (joined by compassion and commitment). Poor communication can result in POOR MINISTRY.

Kenneth Boa wrote about communication skills  in an article for Here are a few of his points about communication that affect leaders:

  • “A leader who cannot communicate will not lead well or long….. those who wish to be good leaders will develop [the] skill [of listening].” (Proverbs 18:13)
  • “Closely tied in with the skill of listening is the ability to express oneself in a nonabrasive and affirming manner.” (Proverbs 12:18)
  • “…wise leaders think before they speak; in so doing, they select words that nurture rather than destroy.” (Proverbs 15:1; James 1:19-20)
  • “Your degree of ability to communicate will either evoke trust or distrust in those you lead. It will instill either confidence or fear. It will determine to a large extent how eagerly your followers will follow you.”
  • “Effective communication involves more than just speaking and hearing. Real communication only takes place when both parties move beyond speaking and hearing to understanding.”
  • Proverbs 18:2 demonstrates that the one-sided communicator comes off looking foolish. But look now at verse 13:  ‘He who answers before listening ~ that is his folly and his shame.’ A leader must also hear before answering ~ that’s essential…. In order to be truly effective, that leader must also listen and respond with a mind that is open and searching for a fuller meaning. Then and only then can effective two-way communication begin to take place.”

Speaker and AudienceI have seen first-hand the results of poor communication skills in church and religious leaders ~ anger on church boards, misunderstandings that could have been avoided, and even changes in leadership as a result of poorly communicated concepts. Communication problems can tear churches apart.

Communication is important to God.  “As a personal and relational being, God is a communicator,” Boa wrote.

God has communicated to us in the general revelation of creation, which speak to us of God’s power and order, as well as in special revelation ~ the Word of God.  Hebrews 1:1-3a reveals to us that God also communicated to us by His Son, Jesus, who is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being. Jesus came to help us know the Father, and His words and life communicated the character of the Father perfectly.

Our enemy, Satan, no doubt wants to cloud and destroy believers’ communication; but from the many scriptures about the use of the tongue in the Bible, it is clear that God wants us to study how to speak. God  wants us to become skilled communicators.

The truth is, our Father God knows that when we first understand biblical principles concerning communication and then act on them, we can ease even the most sticky relationships.

Is there an area of communication that God wants you to work on today?

* Adapted from “Four-by-Twos” in 1001 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speakers, #154, p. 73


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