Published by Baker Academic on September 1, 2020
Genres: Academic, Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Theology
Communications expert Quentin Schultze offers an engaging and practical guide to help Christians interact effectively at home, work, church, school, and beyond. Based on solid biblical principles and drawn from Schultze's own remarkable experiences, this book shows how to practice "servant communication" for a rich and rewarding life. Topics include how to overcome common mistakes, be a more grateful and virtuous communicator, tell stories effectively, reduce conflicts, overcome fears, and communicate well in a high-tech world. Helpful sidebars and text boxes are included.
Throughout this book, Quentin J. Schultze shares advice for how Christians can steward their words in a way that serves others. Although most of the advice is fairly basic, he offers a strong theological perspective for the importance of communication, sharing both general principles and practical ideas for how Christians can improve their communication skills in their personal relationships, the church, and the corporate world. He shares personal stories about his upbringing in a toxic family environment, showing how people can struggle in relationships because they lack a model for healthy communication, and writes about what a blessing it was that God led him to communication studies shortly after his salvation. I appreciated his transparency and unique perspective.
Instead of promoting tips for self-centered communication, Schultze casts a vision for “servant communication,” emphasizing that words should build others up and honor them, instead of being tools for the speaker to obtain what they want. In that sense, this book is a great alternative to business publications that focus on sealing a deal or promoting oneself, because even though Schultze shares many similar tips about understanding one’s context, listening well, talking clearly, and telling stories to cast a vision, he approaches this from a communal and Christian view instead of emphasizing one’s self-interest.
Schultze writes about the importance of vulnerability, compassion, understanding diverse backgrounds, and releasing control and blame in order to truly serve others. My one complaint about this book is that the text boxes are often distracting, inserting anecdotes or practical ideas that disrupt the flow of the main text. In most cases, the author could have incorporated the same information into the main text, and whenever it didn’t fit with the content or tone, that just made it even more distracting. Someone who likes to skim may appreciate the text boxes, since they draw attention to main ideas, but because I was reading the book straight through, I did not find them helpful.
Communicating with Grace and Virtue: Learning to Listen, Speak, Text, and Interact as a Christian also addresses digital engagement. I was very impressed with this part of the book, and appreciate how Schultze wrote about technological communication tools without overestimating or dismissing the worth of text, email, digital presentations, and social media. Instead of conveying a positive or negative stance, he encourages his readers to evaluate these issues on a case-by-case basis, deciding whether or not technological delivery will enhance or hinder a particular message. This focus on finding the right medium warns against overusing technology just because it exists, but also supports it as a meaningful tool in the right situation.
This book provides solid advice for how Christians can serve others with good communication, instead of using their words as self-serving tools or blundering through life without skill or sensitivity. Schultze writes about his difficult upbringing to illustrate the challenges that some people face with communication and relationship skills, and he shares a hopeful message of how people can grow over time in healthy, constructive communication patterns. This book covers advice that is common in other texts on communication, but is unique in its Christian emphasis and focus on compassion, virtue, and service to others. I would recommend this book to anyone who struggles with communication, wants to understand the philosophy and principles behind it, or would benefit from a specifically Christian view of the subject.