One of my favorite television shows growing up was, “The Gong Show.” For thirty-minutes once a week Chuck Barris would host amateur contestants performing in front of three judges who only had to listen as long as they wanted. If the performance was not to their liking, they reached for the mallet and struck a huge gong on stage. When the gong sounded, the performance was over. (By the way, if you haven't ever experienced the talents of "Gene, Gene, the Dancing Machine," or "Larry and His Magic Trombone," Google it on Youtube... and you're welcome.)
The Apostle Paul teaches what I refer to as “The Gong Principle” in a letter he wrote to people he loved. There is no more lived-out Biblical principle in the world than this one. Whether in business or at a family meal, whether the words are eloquently delivered from a podium or quietly whispered into someone’s ear, “The Gong Principle” applies. Get it right and your words are heard, even if they are not always initially accepted. Get it wrong and you may as well take a seat.
Here it is: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)
The most powerful attention getter and communication pathway in the world is love; the most formidable dead end in communication is the lack of it.
Ears may comprehend the sound of your message, but the heart will not open if you don’t love who your talking to, or what you're talking about. If people identify your love, your words may take root. If not, they reach for the gong.
People can tell when you love what you’re speaking about. Civil rights were more than a speech topic to Dr. King, and Winston Churchill’s “Never Give In” address isn’t remembered for it’s literary depth.
People can tell when you love whom your speaking about. Fallen soldiers were far more than a talking point for President Lincoln at Gettysburg that day. There is no sweeter sound than hearing a spouse talk with respect and love about their mate.
People can tell when you love whom you’re speaking to, especially if you’re talking to them. It’s true: the eyes communicate long before the words arrive. The platform, built by actions before the moment of words, is love or it doesn’t exist.
Don’t be deceived. This is not a speech problem. It’s a heart problem. The heart can be filled with a lot of different emotions: fear, pride, jealousy, hate, shame, bitterness, anxiety, or regret to name a few. Any of the above may contaminate the message we seek to deliver even to those we love. (Luke 6:45)
As a husband, father, son, brother, and leader, I wish I’d never been gonged, but I have been. Far too often my opinions overrode my love and my message was deleted on arrival.
The ultimate example and source of love is Jesus so I’m leaning in closer these days asking God to renew my heart and fill it with His unconditional, un-ignorable, irresistible, pure, powerful, new every morning, love.
Shakespeare was right; “All the world’s a stage.” You and I are just players. The story is God's story, the act is our lives, but it’s not about us. We have been assigned a part to play in the lives of others. We have lines to deliver. We may be on their stage a long time or short time. Our lines may be many or few, delivered to a large audience or a small child, but they are important to the person whose stage we’re on.
I want to get my lines right.