Monday, November 8, 2010

I Represent—Taking Upon His Name

Everything we do should be to glorify God and become more like him, right? Our education should serve to further the kingdom. I’ve always believed this, but it was discouraging to me for a while. As most of you know, I attend Brigham Young University, and I am a Communications major with a Public Relations emphasis. I love it, but what does that have to do with making me more like God? I struggled with that for some time; I love what I learn, but is it really something that will help me further the kingdom and prepare for the eternities. I was getting a little frustrated until one day I simplified everything I’ve learned in PR to one key aspect of what I do: I represent.

Essentially, as a public relations professional, I voluntarily choose to take on a company/person/organization/etc and I communicate their message; I become their advocate to the rest of the world. As a representative for an entity I realize that when people see me, they judge whoever I represent by my behavior, speech, and even my appearance. I commit to do or say nothing that would negatively reflect on my client. Any true professional knows and lives by this rule. As a public relations professional I never advocate for anything that goes against my morals or values, I truly believe in whatever I represent.

As I was thinking about being in public relations, I realized that many of the commitments and goals of public relations are commitments that I made when I was eight years old. When I was baptized I took upon the name of Christ, and I agreed to represent Him and be an advocate for Him and His cause. This means that because I choose to be a representative of Christ, everything I do can potentially negatively impact others view of Him.

I committed to always make sure that my appearance reflects the values of the Savior by following the standards he has set exactly. That means I should never try to stretch the rules of modesty or appropriate attire. Additionally, my language should always imitate the Savior’s, and this includes more than just avoiding a list of expletives. My language should always be appropriate in every way; it should be uplifting, not degrading; kind, not cruel; and understanding, not judgmental. Furthermore, my behavior should always be such that if someone seeks to know the Savior love, they can find it in me.

The skills I learn in public relations can help me in many things. I learn to communicate better, I learn to advocate for causes that I believe in, and I learn to become a better representative of Christ.

Challenge: Become a better representative of Christ. You took upon his name, and you know what it means. Strive to eliminate anything in your life that impedes your capacity to be an effective representative of our Savior. Clean up your language, fix your clothes, hair, and appearance in general, behave in a way that shows not only how much you love Christ, but how much He loves everyone as well.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Language--Seeing Through Your Ears

“Language best shows a man; speak, that I may see thee”

Language is a part of our lives every day. In our hi-tech world we are always communicating. Between text messaging, social networking, email, and more, we are not limited to arranging face-to-face conversations to talk anymore. While whether this is a good or bad thing is a subject for a different post, this change does serve as evidence that we are using language to communicate more than ever before.

Now that it has been established that we are almost constantly communicating, what does that have to do with the quote? Every time we communicate, or use language, we are revealing a piece of the puzzle that is our identity. Don’t believe me? Think about this situation. Angela and Kathy both stub their toe. Angela lets out a yelp and says “Ouch!” Kathy lets out a yelp… and a stream of expletives. Only one word is changed, but the effect is very different. We would all love to say we never judge, however, you would likely think of these two girls in two very different ways. What about two friends Eric and Danny? Eric uses positive language about everything in life, but Danny never ceases to discuss the negative. Do you think of them the same? Not likely. One last bit of convincing evidence: Think of the last time you were on the phone with someone you had never met before. Try to remember how they spoke. Did you create an idea of what they might look like based purely on that? The language we use and how we use it creates an image of who we are, for better or for worse. Whether we speak in a way that is loving or hateful, respectful or rude, positive or negative, we show who we are and what we care about.

People make certain assumptions about someone according to how they talk. For instance, one who uses words that are not commonly known are quickly labeled as smart (maybe even nerdy or self-righteous); on the other hand, someone who uses language with a lot of slang and poor grammar is likely to be seen as someone less educated (maybe even lazy or stupid).

If this quote is true, perhaps it can be said that it is critical that we watch what language we choose to use and how we choose to use it.

Challenge: Before you speak, think about what image you wish to portray. Does your language support that image? If not, maybe you ought to either revise what you wish to say or perhaps it would be best to not speak at all.