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Communication is important. If you have been around for any length of time you have already come to understand how easy it is for the writing of one person to be misunderstood by readers of that one person’s writing. This is the result, often times, of the lack of clarity on the part of the one who wrote, but many more times, it is a failure of the reader to take time to understand.

Recently, on my blog, I posted some remarks with regard to the writing (blog) of Frank Viola. He posted some sentiments on the myth of leadership. The topic intrigued me. I scanned and then printed his blog article; later that day I read it not once, but twice. Thinking I clearly understood what he said, I wrote my own words in reply to it; he read what I wrote and said that he and I understand the topic the same. I was perplexed by the remark of his, but wanting to do the right thing, I quickly advanced an apology for misreading what he said.

Last evening I read again what he said and, after this third reading, I said to myself that I didn’t misread what he said. His words were too plain for me to have done so. If you have read my remarks previous you’ll note that I said that within the local congregation the elders of that church are the leaders. He maintains the elders are not the leaders. Here is what he said: “Overseers/elders are not ‘the’ leaders of the local church. They simply lead in a specific capacity that’s different from the other members of the church.”

The difference between him and me is with regard to the use of the word the in relationship to leadership, in particular the elders/overseers of the congregation. I maintain, strongly, that elders/bishops/overseers in the local congregation are the leaders of that congregation. He does not. If he did not mean to say what the complete two sentences make plain that he did say, then he needed to say what I have quoted him to say a little differently. However, he did say it, and I did not misunderstand it.

Just as it is the obligation of the speaker/writer to make sure clarity is forthcoming, it is also the obligation of the hearer/reader to make sure it is understood before an adequate reply is forthcoming. If this does not take place communication does not occur.