Wisdom from Ants - Communication is a Responsibility
King Solomon left crumb trails for us to follow in Proverbs. Each Proverb is its own feast, full of wisdom to nurture our souls - if we allow it. Lately, I've been living as an ant: scouring to store away each crumb left behind in an effort to improve myself. Here, I invite you in on that journey; we're marching two-by-two afterall.
Related posts cover why Solomon chose an ant as a role model, an interpretation of an ant’s life, an invitation to accept that we are all sluggards, and an application piece inspired by Solomon’s words. If you’d like, and haven’t yet, consider checking them out. However, this post serves well as a stand alone if you’re ready to improve your communication skills with help from an ant.
The most recent crumb I'm digesting is to:
We all know communication is important to building relationships. How many times does a relationship struggle due to communication? But as an ant, relationships do not struggle from failures in communication. No, as an ant, lack of communication leads to death. To an ant, communication is a responsibility tantamount to survival. If they do not follow the pheromone trail left by others, they do not find food or avoid peril. And, if they do not leave a pheromone trail of their own, they do not lead others to food or away from peril.
Observe Personal Communication Patterns
If you'd like to study communication in your life through an in-depth, observational experience, here's an exercise for you:
- Fold a paper in thirds, vertically.
- In the first column, list the names of people you communicate with during an average day - leave plenty of space between each person for data collection.
- In column two, provide a brief description of communication as it happens.
- Notate whether it was received or given. You could color code with red for received and green for given, or you could mark with an “r” and “g” respectively.
- Next, decide whether the communication led toward life or death (consider emotional, spiritual and physical effects). Notate those with lime green for life and dark gray for death, or “l” and “d” respectively.
- Then, describe the reaction to the communication in the third column.
- After collecting a suitable quantity and variance of situations for study, evaluate the collected data for patterns. Then, consider these questions:
- How do reactions to communications leading to life differ from those leading to death?
- What is the proportion between the amount you communicate to and act on communications of others? Is it about equal?
- Do you notice a difference in communication patterns based on the other person involved?
Or, if you'd like, print this data collection and reflection question guide to participate.
A Soul Responsibility
An ant’s sole responsibility regarding communication is life. Life should also be our soul responsibility in communicating AND in acting on communication. Prayerfully consider how you communicate. Choose words and responses that speak life - not just for others, but also for yourself. If a person’s communication toward you leads to death (emotionally, spiritually, or physically) YOU are responsible for reacting in a way that leads to life – for you and for the other person. That means being honest and standing up for your emotional, spiritual, and physical life while also considering the emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of others.
Friends, it's not easy. Communication never is. Communication forces vulnerability. But if we want true, life-giving relationships as God intended, it is a requirement. Full disclosure: I struggle with speaking life. But I believe, that with God's power, we HAVE this, Fellow Stone. Ant Mode ON!
Praying with you as we march toward communicating and acting on communication in life-giving ways.
With Love and Prayers,