BY JAMES SEATON
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a communicator. My mom always tells me the story of how, when I was little and barely able to speak, I would make an earnest attempt to share the gospel. I would grab a wooden spoon, stand on top of a table and scream, “maybuh, ohhhh maybuhh (neighbor)” before fumbling through a heartfelt, although incomprehensible, sermon.
Fast forward almost two decades, and now, I’m enjoying my duties as an emcee for Cru and other organizations from time to time, a writer for various organizations, and a poet. I say all of this not to boast in my accomplishments, but instead, to acknowledge how God has mercifully granted me the weighty opportunity to share his love in person and on various types of media.
I say weight because I understand that words have power. My favorite class this semester is Organizational Communication, and in it, I am learning about the plethora of ways that companies can innovate and differentiate themselves from competitors. One of the ways is communication.
Take Alibaba, for example. I was inspired by the story of Jack Ma, who founded the digital company with 18 people in his apartment. He confidently encouraged his employees to get behind a ground-level idea while tenaciously expressing the value of internet use, something completely new in China, to government officials and businesses. They regularly turned him down. Former Alibaba Vice President Porter Erisman compared his work at the time to “selling magic beans to someone.”1
Communication outside the framework of leadership is also essential. What keeps companies going is not just top-down, CEO-to-employee coordination, but rather communication within informal networks. These networks consist of friendships or partnerships that transcend department boundaries, allowing companies to resolve unexpected issues.
The great thing about the gift of communication is that you don’t have to be Jack Ma or a company employee to experience its power. We all use it, and in fact, we’re all called to. God gives every person the task of using his or her tongue. No matter what we study, where we live, or who we are around, we are meant to use our voices to build people up and bring glory to our creator.
We need look no further than Cornell University to see dynamic opportunities to encourage and inspire people. As our peers are wading in the mire of stressful exams, anxious about the internship process and even financial hardships, we are in a position to give someone hope through our words.
While we face tough academic pressures today, the Jews in biblical times suffered economic and governmental oppression. Jesus, who is God in human form, embraced this environment as a mission field to love and edify the people around him.
For example, He called his followers friends instead of servants,2 encouraged them not to be afraid,3 and told them to bring their weariness to him in exchange for rest.4 He did all of this and so much more to glorify his Father.5
In the same way, we are commanded to guide each other towards love and good deeds.6 By loving, placing a smile on someone’s face, or helping a friend get through a tough time, we give God glory in heaven.
We don’t need to fit into any specific mold to accomplish this goal. In fact, we shouldn’t. We all have unique personalities, humor, knowledge, and experiences with which we can identify with people from different backgrounds and change the campus culture. And so, within communication, we see how diversity and empathy become all the more important.
It’s also not just about what we say in our “official” club roles or performances but in our dorms with the people closest to us and at dining halls or events with people we meet for the first time. By understanding the breadth of the opportunities to communicate that God gives us, we take the focus off of ourselves and place it on the One who granted us these chances.
I thank God for making us in His image and giving us the ability to love others through communication. It is a beautiful thing to sow into a life, share value, and use our mouths to change the world we live in.
1 [CNBC Life]. (2017, Oct. 14). Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba | The Brave Ones [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH0IfJDRQ7M&t=390s
2 John 15:15
3 John 14:27
4 Matthew 11:28-30
5 John 17:1-5
6 Hebrews 10:24