1. Always end all hurtful, condescending, judgmental communication with “iron sharpens iron.” Iron sharpens iron is a magical “get out of jail” card that absolves communicators from all the consequences of their communication. If the receiver of your email is hurt or offended, they need to realize that your two thousand word diatribe against the foundations of their very being was, in fact, not an attempt to harm them but to sharpen them. Even if they feel like they’ve been stabbed in the back, they have, in fact, been sharpened…in the back.
2. Learn the words “righteous anger.” A supposedly wise man once told me that if you have a habit of labeling your anger as righteous, it is most likely not righteous. That man made me very angry! I wrote him a long, righteously angry letter to prove he was wrong. He still disagrees with me, even though I wrote iron sharpens iron at the beginning and end of my correspondence. Regardless, it is important to remember that Jesus gave us one or two examples of righteous anger so that we could apply these examples to almost every situation. Just as Jesus used a whip to clear the temple of moneychangers, so we can exercise our righteous anger to protest the worship team’s drum volume. Once you learn to use the words righteous anger effectively, you will find a whole new world of possibilities opening up to you. When people accuse you of being “easily angered,” you can respond that you are, in fact, “overly in touch with your righteousness.” It’s not that you can’t “control your temper,” it’s just you can’t “contain your righteousness.” When you embrace your “righteous anger,” you can continue your crusade against the new foyer coffee bar with a clear conscience.
3. Learn to speak about other people’s problems and weaknesses as a form of prayer. All Christians know that gossip is a sin. Consequently, it is very important to pray about gossips whenever we gather with our most trusted friends at church or Starbucks. When praying for gossips, it is crucial that we communicate their sin clearly by including the what, when, why, how, where and can you believe it details of their sinful gossiping. Clarity gives the hearer discernment on how to pray and communicate the prayer need to others. Remember that it is not gossip to talk about someone as long as it is in the form of a prayer request or for the purpose of expressing genuine concern for someone who is not in the room. As a general safeguard, it is usually appropriate to say the words “bless her heart” or “bless his heart” after sharing pertinent painful details about his or her life. “Bless her heart” demonstrates Christian love and is a clear sign that you are not in the least bit titillated by the news that sister Mary’s youngest son Dominic was fired from Subway for stealing a yard worth of foot long sandwiches. Remember that prayer chains are notoriously gossipy. Therefore, only give vague, troublesome details on the prayer chain, while communicating the specific details in hushed whispers, in person, between a multitude of trusted friends.
4. Avoid the use of satire or sarcasm!