Speak the Truth in Love

Changing times do not change timeless truths. As I thought about our speech in daily conversations, this line from St. Paul caught my attention. He wrote,

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

This is how he began his short and poetic sketch of true love.

Gongs remind us of our school days when it was used as a bell and cymbals remind us of the school band where at the rear along with the big drum you could see and hear the clash/crash of cymbals. They made big noise. Just like that, our speeches if not spiced with love are just loud noises at best. It does not matter If I can speak in the tongue of angels who speak words of praise to God. But what matters is whether I can speak in love.

It is difficult to meet this standard. Sometimes in our eagerness to speak the truth we wound our loved ones. Because we fail to speak it in love. Again I am reminded of St. Paul who wrote, “Speak the truth in love.”

Criticizing and finding fault without taking into consideration the other person’s limitations, frustrations and difficulties they face in the context of their lives are ways in which we often do not speak the truth in love.

I read somewhere that if we hear the sound of a glass fall to the ground with a loud noise at home, immediately we rush to the spot and ask, “Who did this?” That is speaking without love, without understanding. Instead if we can ask, “What happened?” it would lessen the impact of our words and create an atmosphere of love where an honest expression of truth can happen.

Perhaps nothing colours a message of truth more negatively than the tone in which it is delivered. We often manipulate, terrify and trick people by our tone of voice. But let us resolve otherwise, to try to speak the truth in love.

Let us consider every moment that the person we are talking to is a person with needs, fears, longings and dreams just like any one of us.

It is our ability to see the other person in such a sympathetic light that enables us to talk well, when meanings are painted against a backdrop of love.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth!
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Tips for Compering

What Slow-Moving Phases of Life Teach Us

Movement is a sign of life. It also signifies progress. Sometimes progress is slow and painful.

It is during such times that one has to learn not to lose heart. It is during such times we need to take time to focus once again on our priorities and goals. Without doubt such times test the strength of our spirits to endure patiently the lack of activity that once characterized the sunny seasons of life.

Here are a few lessons that slow-moving phases of life taught me:

#1 It is too early to quit, always.
Bitter disappointments are part of ambitious attempts. But that is no reason to quit even if you feel like doing so. Success in life is about holding on to your purpose even when all progress comes to a standstill. Success is about attempting one more time, however big your failure was in the last attempt.

Again, success is about being brave enough to walk into the playing arena when all voices cry out for your blood, when all have labelled you a loser and when there is not one to believe in your ability to perform once again the way you did when you had captured their hearts as one man. Therefore keep at your task. Try once again. Attempt one more time. Never quit.

#2 Waiting prepares us for handling greater responsibilities.
No man is ready to step into greatness without having waited for his opportunity. It is during times of waiting that one prepares oneself by sharpening one’s skills. It is not a time to idle away. Instead it is a great learning experience.

One learns how success itself has become monotonous because there is no fresh challenge. You suddenly realize that familiar territory has so much kept you from exploring more challenging possibilities in life. So you become willing to learn new lessons, to change outdated methodologies, and to challenge your reluctance to move ahead.

#3 Success is not permanent.
We are all people held prisoners by our past glories, victories, crowns and trophies. We mistakenly associate success with all the trophies displayed in the showcase or the bundle of certificates we so proudly display before others. This is at best, foolishness. Life’s success is measured differently. It is not what you did in the past that matters most, but what you can do today.

The biggest mistake therefore can be to dwell on the glory of your past achievements. That attitude makes you a relic of the past. The temptation to rest on your laurels is too much to handle in the slow-moving phases of life. We rely too much on what we have already achieved. The reality is that it is nothing. What matters most is what is your contribution today. Life has to move on.

In conclusion, let me say that there are many lessons that slow-moving phases of life teach us. Blessed is the man who is willing to learn from them and create greater mileage out of it in the run ahead.

Jesus Christ of Nazareth!

7 Sayings of Jesus on the Cross

jpeg purple cross

Few other words have touched the heart and influenced thought for generations than Jesus’ 7 sayings on the cross. Here we take a look at them from a speaker’s perspective.

The Setting:
The scene that day was dramatic as well as cosmic. He was nailed to the cross and lifted high; hanging between earth and sky from 9 a.m. in the morning till the time of the evening sacrifice at 3 p.m. There was a crown of thorns on his head and a written inscription above him which read, “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews.” While he lay on the cross, those who passed by hurled insults at him. Unusually, there came darkness over all the land. Two criminals were also crucified with him, one on the right and another on his left. At the foot of the cross, Roman soldiers cast lots for his clothing.

A Speaker’s Perspective:
No man ever spoke so gracious words from such a stage. Here was the Saviour of the world, helpless, naked and bleeding. Such a setting and backdrop gives the utterances of Jesus from the cross a unique place in human history. For the audience was not just the crowds that had gathered, but both heaven and hell were eager witnesses to this event so pregnant with meaning.
Every Drop of Blood

Saying #1

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

A Speaker’s Perspective:
An introduction that goes right into the heart of the subject is much appreciated. Here Jesus is clearly showing the purpose of His suffering. He was shedding His blood for the forgiveness of man’s sins. Also to be noted is the confidence with which these words are spoken; the confidence that His words would be heard by His Father in heaven.

Saying #2

Then he [one crucified criminal] said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

A Speaker’s Perspective:
Communicating hope is perhaps the highest calling of any speaker. Here the man is expressing his need to find salvation. Jesus is able to meet that need, assuring him of a place with Him in paradise. Thus that man died in hope. In today’s world characterized by all kinds of fears and tensions and anxieties, if the speaker can communicate hope to the audience of a better and bright tomorrow; then he has done the world a great service.

Saying #3

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, . . . When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.


A Speaker’s Perspective:

A speaker should exhibit care towards his audience. As it is said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Jesus, even in His moments of great agony, was ever mindful of the need of His mother to find rest and joy in some home the rest of her days on earth. So also a speaker should be able to sense the unspoken needs of the crowd he is addressing and come up with a solution that shows he cares.

Saying #4

About the ninth hour [i.e. 3 p.m.] Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”-which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

A Speaker’s Perspective:
A speaker has to identify himself with the audience. Here Jesus identifies with suffering humanity who constantly ask this question, “O God, why have you forsaken us?” Those who suffer unjustly find solace in this cry of Jesus knowing that He too passed through the dark night of the soul. When an audience knows that a speaker has experienced what they are going through, he gains greater credibility with them. For example, a speaker who himself had failed in examinations at school, if he addresses a group of students who failed in a recent exam, will come across to the audience as inspiring when he shares his later success stories.

Saying #5

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”

A Speaker’s Perspective:
Many speakers find it difficult to open up before audiences. They are afraid to share a story from their life. This is because they fear that if they are shown as weak, then audiences would not regard them in a favourable light. But Jesus was different. The tremendous loss of blood following the physical abuses that were heaped on Him made His tongue stick to the roof of His mouth. So as a human being He made His weakness known. The lesson for a speaker is that he should never fail to highlight the common human aspect of his life and make it known to his audience. It is then that audiences warm up to a speaker.

Saying #6

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”


A Speaker’s Perspective:

Many are those who begin well, but end dismally. This is true not only of speech, but also of life as well. A speaker should determine to finish strong, both in his speech and in his life as well. Jesus, knowing that He had fully paid for the sins of the world, said, “It is finished.” It was a cry of triumph. So also, a strong conclusion is a must for a great speech. Weak conclusions leave a weak impression in the minds of the audience. It frustrates them with a sense of incompleteness. But here we see Jesus finishing on a strong note.

Saying #7

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

A Speaker’s Perspective:
A graceful exit is as much a thing of beauty as a great performance. Many speakers do injustice to their audience by heaving a sigh of relief at the end of their speech as if it was a great burden for them. That leaves a bad taste in the mouth. In this last saying, Jesus is quoting a prayer which says “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” It was prayer that every Jewish mother taught her child to say the last thing before he or she slept at night. Here, Jesus dies like a child falling asleep in his father’s arms. It was indeed a graceful exit.

Conclusion
Audience Perspective:
Ultimately the success of any communication depends on what the audience perceives about it. A centurion of the Roman army who was in charge of the crucifixion was moved by Jesus’ death. “And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, `Surely this man was the Son of God!’ ”

Jesus’ Perspective about His crucifixion:
He had said this about it sometime before His crucifixion:

“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”

Truly, the words He spoke on the cross too add to this attractive power.

Note: The quotes used in this blog post are taken from the four Gospel accounts about Jesus Christ taken from the New International Version of the Bible: Inscription, John 19:19. The seven sayings, Luke 23:34, Luke 23:42, 43, John 19:25-27, Matthew 27:46, John 19:28, John 19:30, Luke 23:46. Centurion, Mark 15:39. Jesus’ Perspective, John 12:32.
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Tips for Compering

 

“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,”

so wrote John Keats.

As far as a speaker is concerned, the opportunity to act as a compere for a programme is a great joy. It calls for all his skill, grace, and eloquence. Success as a compere is not a matter of chance. Instead careful preparation and precise execution is what makes compering a thing of beauty.

A compere can lift the mood and quality of a programme to great heights. Here are a few simple tips to do so.

#1. Be sure about all the names of people you have to mention. Try to understand how names that are strange to you are pronounced. Never get the names of people wrong; especially that of guests. Be also sure about their Profession or Qualification. Do not label them different from what they wish to be presented as. (Read more on this point: 7 Mistakes to Avoid While Compering)

#2. Be clear about what you are supposed to do. Is it to introduce them, felicitate them or simply invite them? Be clear about roles you are to play during the course of progress of the programme. Do the organizers expect you to hand over some memento to the Chief Guest to be given to its recipient? and so on.

#3. It is excellent if you can write down the entire script for the compering before you actually do it. This not only gives you confidence but gives you freedom to make last minute adjustments. You need to remember that last minute adjustments come in plenty. Type your script in large, easy to read fonts in double space. Leave a lot of margin and spaces in between to insert comments.

#4. Be lively and enthusiastic in your presentation. A compere sets the tone for the entire programme. It is his privilege to keep the momentum going. Along with the words spoken, dynamism of the compere on stage helps the audience to eagerly anticipate the segment that follows.

#5. The way you begin is important. It is the starting block from where you will start sprinting. Have a smile from your heart on your face; show confidence in the way you stand; let your movements be with grace and be loud and clear when you begin. More than this, the introduction has to set the tone for the entire programme for the day.

Tips for Compering 7 Great Songs of Christmas

#6. Find a few apt quotations (not commonplace jokes) which you can quote between speeches or programmes. If the audience can feel the connection between those lines and the program, then it would be fantastic. Humour arising out of situations or content of speeches can be used to connect with the audience.

#7. Be careful about voice modulation and clarity. Reduce speed without letting go of enthusiasm. It needs practice. Be loud enough to be heard. You may have to put in 10% to 25% extra effort than your normal speaking to get this right.

#8. Try to make transitions smooth through comments which are brief and to the point. Do not talk for long. Your role is to facilitate not to dominate. You are like the salt of the earth; adding taste without really clamouring for attention. As is said, a man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.

#9. Anticipate everything to go wrong. Because many times things do wrong unexpectedly. For example, power failure while someone is singing or speaking. Then you may have to step on stage and take control of things. Be prepared to do so. And also be prepared with knowledge in advance as to what can be done as back-up to redeem the situation.

#10. Finally, it would be great if you can go and practice your compering on stage at the actual venue a day before the event. You Too Can Compere!

To sum up, if you can enjoy your performance with confident enthusiasm and connect with audiences, you will do well.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth!

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