one to one: Lessons about life, ministry, and grandkids
by Keith Burden, Executive Secretary, National Association of Free Will Baptists
Failure to Communicate
Our granddaughter had just celebrated her third birthday. She, along with her parents and brothers, were attending the national convention in Memphis, Tennessee. Though her name is Julia, we affectionately refer to her as Juju. She’s one of my sweet knuckleheads.
My wife and I (aka Nana and Papa) wanted to spend some time with the grandchildren, so we decided to take them on a short riverboat cruise on the Mississippi. As we made our way to the dock, a rare mid-July rain shower popped up.
In short order, the tickets were purchased, and we boarded the paddlewheel driven vessel. Because of the rain we opted to sit inside the cabin around a table rather than outside on the upper observation deck and get wet. We instructed the grandchildren to remain seated while the boat was moving to avoid falling and risk injury.
In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best excursion for three young children. While the tour guide’s commentary about the sites along the shoreline was interesting to the adults, it was obviously not very exciting for younger passengers.
Julia was bored out of her mind. On more than one occasion I had to summon her back to her seat. Finally, unable to sit still any longer, she slipped from her chair and began walking toward the cabin door. In a serious tone I said, “Julia. Come back and sit down.”
Pausing momentarily, she gave me a backward glance and then kept walking away. With the most stern, grandfatherly voice I could muster I said, “Juju! You obey me.” She stopped dead in her tracks, turned and said matter-of-factly, “Papa, I am not an old baby.”
A few seconds of awkward silence ensued. Then her brothers began snickering under their breath. Finally, unable to contain it any longer, the entire family burst out in laughter. It was one of those hilarious, priceless moments we will never forget.
That amusing incident serves as a reminder we need to pay attention when communicating with others. What we say, and what others hear, is not necessarily the same thing. Good intentions are no substitute for good communication skills.
An effective communicator follows a few basic rules: keep it simple; think before you speak; hear through the ears of the listener. Otherwise, you may experience a failure to communicate and someone may think you’re calling them an “old baby.”
“So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken?” (1 Corinthians 14:9a).
About the columnist. One to One is a regular feature of ONE Magazine. Written by Keith Burden, executive secretary of the National Association of Free Will Baptists, the column explores life, ministry...and the joys of grandchildren.