EMOTION is a fundamental part of human life. When a person expresses his emotions, he reveals what is in his heart, the sort of person he is inside, how he feels about situations and people. Because of harsh experiences in their lives—and in some instances because of cultural influences—many people hide their emotions. But Jehovah encourages us to cultivate positive qualities in the inner person and then to give appropriate expression to what is there.—Rom. 12:10; 1 Thess. 2:7, 8.
When we speak, the words we use may correctly identify emotions. But if our words are not expressed with corresponding feeling, those who hear us may doubt our sincerity. On the other hand, if the words are expressed with appropriate feeling, our speech can take on a beauty and a richness that may touch the hearts of those who are listening.
Expressing Warmth. Warm feelings are frequently associated with thoughts about people. Thus, when we speak about Jehovah’s endearing qualities and when we express our appreciation for Jehovah’s goodness, our voice should be warm. (Isa. 63:7-9) And when speaking to fellow humans, our manner of speaking should also convey an appealing warmth.
A leper comes to Jesus and begs to be healed. Imagine Jesus’ tone of voice when he says: “I want to. Be made clean.” (Mark 1:40, 41) Picture, too, the scene as a woman subject to a flow of blood for 12 years quietly approaches Jesus from behind and touches the fringe of his outer garment. Upon realizing that she has not escaped notice, the woman comes forward trembling, falls at Jesus’ feet, and discloses before all the people why she has touched his garment and how she has been healed. Think of the manner in which Jesus says to her: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go your way in peace.” (Luke 8:42b-48) The warmth that Jesus displayed on those occasions touches our hearts down to this day.
When, like Jesus, we feel compassion for people and when we truly want to help them, it shows in the way we speak to them. Such an expression of warmth is sincere, not excessive. Our warmth can make a big difference in how people respond. Most of the things we say in the field ministry lend themselves to this kind of expression, especially when we are reasoning, encouraging, exhorting, and sympathizing.
If you have a warm feeling toward others, show it on your face. When you manifest warmth, your audience is drawn to you as to a fire on a cold night. If warmth is not evident on your face, your audience may not be convinced that you sincerely care about them. Warmth cannot be put on like a mask—it must be genuine.
Warmth should also be evident in your voice. If you have a hard, coarse voice, it might be difficult to express warmth in your speech. But with time and conscious effort, you can. One thing that might help, from a purely mechanical standpoint, is to remember that short, clipped sounds make speech hard. Learn to draw out the softer sounds in words. This will help to put warmth into your speech.
Of even greater importance, however, is the focus of your interest. If your thoughts are centered sincerely on those to whom you are speaking and you have an earnest desire to convey something that can benefit them, that feeling will be reflected in the way you speak.
A spirited delivery is stimulating, but tender feeling is also needed. It is not always enough for us to persuade the mind; we must also move the heart.
Expressing Other Feelings. Emotions such as anxiety, fear, and depression might be expressed by a person who is in distress. Joy is an emotion that should be prominent in our lives and that we freely express when speaking to others. On the other hand, some emotions need to be curbed. They are not consistent with the Christian personality. (Eph. 4:31, 32; Phil. 4:4) Emotions of all sorts can be conveyed by the words we choose, our tone of voice, the intensity with which we speak, our facial expression, and gestures.
The Bible reports on the whole range of human emotions. Sometimes it simply names emotions. At other times it relates events or quotes statements that reveal emotions. When you read such material aloud, it will have a greater impact, both on you and on those who are listening, if your voice reflects those emotions. To do that you need to put yourself in the place of those about whom you are reading. A talk is not a theatrical production, however, so be careful not to exaggerate. Make the passages live in the minds of those who are listening.
Appropriate to the Material. As with enthusiasm, the warmth you put into your expression and the other emotions you express depend in large measure on what you are saying.
Turn to Matthew 11:28-30, and take note of what it says. Then read Jesus’ condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees, as recorded in Matthew chapter 23. We cannot imagine him expressing these scathing words of condemnation in a dull and lifeless way.
What sort of feeling do you believe is required by an account such as that in Genesis chapter 44 concerning Judah’s plea for his brother Benjamin? Notice the emotion expressed in verse 13, the indication in verse 16 of how Judah felt about the reason for the calamity, and how Joseph himself reacted, as stated at Genesis 45:1.
Thus, whether we are reading or speaking, to do so effectively we must give thought not only to words and ideas but also to the feeling that ought to accompany these.