A word of good news wraps peace around a longing heart. During Advent, we celebrate the arrival of the Prince of Peace—the long-awaited Messiah—and we are reminded how Jesus was born into a world that was anything but peaceful. Yet even then there were some faithful people still waiting expectantly for God to change things.
When God was ready for the the people hoping for the liberation of Jerusalem to hear of the birth of their long-awaited Messiah, God chose a woman’s voice to be the first to proclaim that message. The careful writing of Luke’s gospel indicates that Anna was the first prophet to see the Christ child and then tell an eager audience that their expectant peace had arrived.
God continues to choose women’s voices to communicate important messages. As an effective leader, you strive to be an excellent communicator. Whether you are announcing the next meeting, leading a Bible study or training session, asking for volunteers, making a formal presentation, giving a report to your boss, or telling a story, you need to have a purpose for communicating your message.
The prophet Anna is described by Luke as one who “never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:37b-38 MSG). In just these two sentences, the prophet Anna confirms four practices of a purposeful communicator:
1. Know your audience. Anna spread her message to those who shared her expectant attitude. A purposeful communicator studies her audience before she speaks or writes to them to understand whether she needs to be persuasive and practical or encouraging and emphatic. Your compassion as a leader depends on it.
2. Use trustworthy sources. Anna had firsthand experience with the content of her message, was sensitive to God’s Spirit, and had probably witnessed Simeon’s prophecy as well. A purposeful communicator is diligent in using reliable sources. Just because something is in print doesn’t make it true or accurate. Research any information you use back to its original source whenever possible. Your integrity as a leader depends on it.
3. Be spiritually prepared to share your message. Anna was known for her devotion by her constant presence in the temple and her disciplines of fasting and prayer. Her first response to the sight of baby Jesus was to praise God. A purposeful communicator develops discernment through personal Bible study, prayer, fasting, and worship. Your spiritual authenticity as a leader depends on it.
4. Communicate a message your audience is both longing and needing to hear. Anna communicated a message of peace to people who were living in a land occupied by their enemies and whose faith practices were tolerated, at best, by the ruling government. Freedom, deliverance, redemption, and liberation were their deepest desires. A purposeful communicator finds a way to make her message resonate within the spirits of her listeners or readers. Your ability to have people who want to follow you as their leader depends on it.
Effective leaders are purposeful communicators. How you communicate a message is often more important than the content of the message. Taking the time to know your audience, research your sources, stay spiritually connected, and be committed to sharing a relevant message will help you communicate with purpose.
During this Season of Advent, we have explored lessons gleaned from the women participants in the events surrounding the birth of Christ and we have seen that God chose women to be the first . . .
- To use the word “messiah” prophetically 1,000 years before the birth of Christ (Hannah)
- To confirm the coming birth of the Messiah (Elizabeth)
- To receive the news of the coming birth of the Messiah (Mary), and
- Prophet to proclaim the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah (Anna).
Join the conversation by adding to the Comments section below . . .
What ideas can you share for incorporating these practices into the many forms of communication expected of you as a leader? What methods do you use to identify the purpose in each message you are communicating to a waiting audience?