I am writing weekly, short spotlights on amazing missionaries, composers and church leaders. Here’s what I *taught myself* as I wrote this week:
Be brave and fearless like Mary Slessor. Care more about loving people than what people think of you.
Have faith like John G. Paton. Press on in your work, even though people around you doubt that God can answer prayer and do miracles. Faith, combined with sweat, dirt and hard work, will be worth it.
What you have been doesn’t mean that’s what you will be. With God’s touch, people can move from being purposeless jokers to daring, adventurous life-changers, like Brother Andrew.
If I had to choose a keyword for 2017, it would be “Listen.” Reading a few books about better listening skills has improved me and ruined me at the same time. I now have goals when I sit down at a gathering to talk to someone. The talker doesn’t even have to be interesting. They will become interesting when I give them the gift of my time and attention; when I immerse myself in what they are saying and see the soul behind it.
But, reading these listening books has opened my eyes. It bothers me now when I make the “listening mistakes”, or…when I feel people aren’t listening to me.
I’ve learned that most people don’t really listen. They often just wait as they get ready to talk at you. It takes self-control and self-denial to listen to someone.
Here are three things I want to remember about being a good listener:
Don’t disengage while someone is talking to you. Don’t ask someone a question, then drift off or look around. That hurts.
Ask thoughtful questions. It lets people know you are listening, keeps you engaged, and actually makes their spiel more interesting.
When you listen, you learn — about everything. “Everyone is an expert on something.” And, when you actively listen to people, you learn something you never knew before.
This is the most difficult. After years of calling myself a Christian, I realized I don’t have enough of the one thing that is supposed to mark a Jesus-follower. Yes, I have the quiet time, the doctrine and the lingo. But I want to love people like Jesus showed me from the Bible. Hating sin is the easy part (when it’s someone else’s sin.) And Christians are good at hating the sin, but sometimes not-so-good at loving the sinner…
Look at people (all made in God’s image) with a Godlike, eternal, loving perspective.
Love God and love people. Show I love God by loving people. Show people I love God by loving them.
Expect God to show up every day in my life.
So…thanks for listening.
Three books that have prompted me to write parts of this post:
Bravo, God, Bravo!
gods and all angels shout, "Encore!"
In awe before the glory,
In awe before God's visible power.
Stand at attention!
Dress your best to honor Him!
Psalm 29, the Message Bible (paraphrase)
I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad,
and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at his command, and all the stars obey.
I hear thunder
Rain, rain, go away
Who'll stop the rain?
Wouldn't it be nice?
Here comes the sun
(You are MY sunshine)
The green grass grows all around
Tiptoe through the tulips
Here comes the rain again.