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communicating with self-control

As a church, we’ve been working our way through 1 Corinthians — Paul’s prescription for this new community called the church.¬†On this blog, I’ve taken a part of chapter nine and looked at it through the lens of a communicator.

One important lesson we can learn is the principle of communicating with self-control:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

I love Paul’s line: “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.”

Communicating with self-control is not about yelling or screaming or dropping¬†the F-Bomb. We all know better than to do those things — I hope. Well, most of us do.

But what does it mean to communicate with self-control? Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Don’t dump everything into the sermon or presentation that you discovered in research. That’s called a data dump, not a sermon or presentation.
  2. Stay focused on your goal and stick to it. This assumes you have a goal.
  3. Don’t chase rabbit trails, even when you find them entertaining (your audience may not find them so entertaining; they may find them distracting). Self-control means I’m refraining from doing something I might really want to do.
  4. Communicating with self-control requires you to be yourself, not someone else. You can’t preach with self-control while trying to be John Piper or Steven Furtick.
  5. Be disciplined about what to keep and what to cut. Think of speaking like a diet: are you eating properly?
  6. Put the needs of the audience to learn and be transformed over your need to be affirmed and rewarded.

While self-control seems restrictive, it’s actually one of the most liberating things you can do — in any area of life, but especially in public speaking.

So, if you want to be a better communicator, get yourself under control.