Here’s an excerpt and reflection from Eugene Peterson’s book about David in Leap Over a Wall [San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997]. I think you’ll appreciate it.
“…preachers…bring us into focus in the story. The art of preaching is to somehow or other get around our third-person defenses and compel a second-person recognition, which enables a first-person response.” (p. 185.)
For “preaching” here, you could easily substitute “good communication.” Third-person defenses, as I think about them, are those places where we leave the message applying to “them” or “him” or “her”, rather than seeing the application as personal. We easily get into the habit of assuming hard words always apply to someone else.
Second-person recognition is that moment in which, like Nathan speaking to David, we hear “this is talking about you.” I awaken to accept and acknowledge a word from God as mine. “God so loved the world” becomes “God loves you.” “God is peace” becomes “God is your peace.” It is the moment of encounter—of embrace.
So then a first-person response is my response, my answer to what God says. “You love me, Father.” “You are my peace.”
I really want to be able to communicate to others in a way that helps them hear the story as their own. I want to speak words that get under or around the defenses that actually prevent others from letting what is good in.