Vital Optimism and Communication

I have a running joke with a good friend of mine. He calls me a preacher. I say - I am not a preacher! That is not a positive word in our culture today. I am a Communicator. I communicate on Sunday mornings, in mid-size communities, in small groups, through writing books, blogs and tweets... in large and small ways - I am a communicator. Okay, okay! I am also a preacher. It is a good word and it is a great calling. It is just that the connotations of that word are so bad in our post-Christendom culture. So when I can, I communicate...

But that is not my point for this post. 

Here's my point. I have been listening to quite a few "communicators" in recent weeks. Typically I only listen to communicators when I am driving and have the radio turned on to catch part of the radio preachers. I generally don't watch videos of preaching... but I have been. 

This is still not my point, but I am getting closer to it.

Here's my point. Wow are there some irritated, grumpy, negative, pessimistic, critical communicators out there. What hit me is that they are also good at communicating. They know the tools of the trade, they have their skills sharpened, their oratory is impressive (and it comes in a variety of voices-styles)... 

Skilled communicators who impress me with skill and words, but who also leave me feeling a bit irritated... a tad more negative... a touch more pessimistic... a smidgeon or two more critical...

It hit me. MOOD MATTERS a great deal in communication. It is not just a message of words and ideas. It is a message AND a mood that is infused throughout the message.

There is an old movie still worth watching. It is Three Men and a Baby. Three bachelors are suddenly left with a baby on their doorstep. They take to raising the baby. There is a delightful scene where Patrick (Tom Selleck) is reading to the baby. He is reading a news story of a boxing match. As he reads the story, he is describing the violence of the fight... but he is doing this in a soothing, calm, gentle voice. The mood is to help the baby go fall asleep. It is a great contrast of message and mood.

See the 30 second scene here.

I find myself wanting to be more attentive to the MOOD of the messages I communicate. For mood has great power to move, perhaps as much as the message itself. Maybe the mood becomes the medium that either advances or hinders the message getting across.

I spend so much of my time working on the words of the message, that mood may be overlooked. But it is never gone. It is always there with the message.

I believe that in general, most of the time, a mood of Vital Optimism is of great benefit for those called to communicate. That doesn't mean we don't address the Brutal Facts of life (Jim Collins). It doesn't mean we bury our head in the sand about the hard and painful issues unfolding around us. There are hard, serious, weighty things to discuss. And a very great deal is at stake in our communication. So we must communicate on these matters.

But it does means we truly believe there is a message of hope and a sovereign and gracious God who loves the world too much to leave it alone in its downward spiral.

It also means we believe God is renewing all things, including our own inner world, with the good news of love, joy, peace and hope. 

As one of the old saints (Julian of Norwich) said.
All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.

Allow that mood to seep and soak into your soul, saturate your mind, and paint your heart with the colors of joyful hope. And then preach away... or communicate away...

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International