A Note from Chris Adams: Overhearing one mom’s snarky comment about another mom’s child, my first thought was, “Who says that?!” Unfortunately, snarkiness is rampant. Filters seem to be in short supply. Actually we all have a filter, but some people do not use their filters. Last week, Dr. Deb Douglas, First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA shared about filtering what we read. This week, she looks into two other filter issues for moms that cause heartache and drama: filtering what we hear and filtering what we say.
Words can wound and create havoc within women’s ministries. How does a women’s minister teach moms how to filter words? We begin by understanding the process of communication ourselves.
What is said is not always what is heard. Without us realizing, we filter what we hear through our own filters. Our hearing filter is impacted by our past experiences, how we are feeling that day, our mood, and our preconceived notions of what the other person is saying.
Our response to what is said is based not on what the speaker actually meant to say, but what we hear through our filters. We then filter how we reply based on our own past experiences, moods, and feelings. She hears what we say based on her own hearing filter. Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? It is. But there is hope!
Need a visual?
Mom #1 has something to say —> She formulates her message through her filter —> The message is spoken —> Mom #2 hears the message through her filter —> The message is received
Mom #2 has a response —> She formulates her message through her filter —> The message is spoken —> Mom #1 hears the message through her filter —> The message is received
This same process happens in any relationship. Learning to filter what we hear and what we say can change marriages, friendships, and work relationships along with bringing peace to women’s ministry!
Here’s How We Can Help
- Consider having a class on communication. Simply learning about the filtering process opens our ears to new possibilities and expands our ability to communicate without the drama.
- Create time for moms to know moms. When someone’s story is known and understood, the things they say can be understood as a result of their past experiences rather than an accurate description of present circumstances. In other words, when we know someone’s story, we give her room to express herself realizing it is her past hurt that is coloring what is being said. It’s easier to let things go when we know the heart of the speaker.
- Encourage grace. When the drama explodes, encourage moms to extend grace to the offending mom. Help moms talk the drama out and come to a place of understanding and forgiveness.
- Dispel the “I have to respond or she is right” myth. We do not have to respond to every snarky comment. To remain silent in response can prevent us from making offensive remarks ourselves.
- Model the art of asking questions for clarity. Most drama can be avoided when we come to a place of clear understanding. Understanding is often just one question away. Ask questions in a calm, unoffensive way. What is a good question? One that is honest and non-confrontational. For example, “I’m confused; could you help me understand?”
Where there are women, there will be drama. But with a little education and a lot of prayer, filters can be taught. Learning to use a filter will change our words from offensive to something a little more palatable. And with a little bit of grace, our hearts will be protected from the unfiltered words of others. We all need a little grace.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.