Watch and Listen

In my last post, I mentioned a skill a pastor needs that I’m calling “The ability to watch and listen.”  I’m thinking of the ability to observe life around you, listen to what people are saying with their words and their lives and then the ability to process what you have seen and heard and try to make sense of it in the light of our relationship with God.

To watch and listen allows me to make my sermons more timely and pertinent to more people. To watch and listen allows me to address the real need not just the stated need.  If you think about it, this was one of Jesus’ greatest strengths. To watch and listen to people and then to address the real issues, not just the things on the surface. To watch and listen means to take time to think and pray about things, to mull them over, to let them simmer in your imagination for a while.  This skill is not about “microwave” instant decisions, it is more about “crockpot” slow developing, cooked all the way through decisions and understanding.

To watch and listen is to see the complexity of today’s world and know that simplistic answers will not help.  To watch and listen means that in one day I can be surprised by a moment of unexpected grace and holiness and later on be saddened by the pain that sin can cause. To watch and listen is to sit in a restaurant studying and hear one group of men behind you having Bible Study and prayer and then a few minutes later hear a group of young people complaining about their f***ing lives. To watch and listen and consider causes me to think about how their prayers might affect those men as they go to work and to wonder about the pain in her life that causes a teenage girl to cuss like that.

To watch and listen is to consider my own anxieties and worries and how their irrationalities can consume me at times, and then to consider the idea that other people might just be anxious and irrational at times, in spite of their best efforts to be faithful. Could that be why grace is so important to our journey as disciples of Jesus Christ? Because without it we would be bogged down with the weight of our own self created messes?

To watch and listen and consider my own reaction to what I encounter.  What does it mean when 30 people come week after week to the Huddle House to play bingo?  Is it sad that they have no other place to go? or is it a wakeup call to the church that people are lonely and they will go anywhere where they are treated with respect.

To watch and listen and consider how the God we worship cares deeply about me in my hurry and worry and he cares just as much about the man praying and the girl cussing. The expanse of such grace is a wonderful thing to behold.

I invite you to watch, to listen and to consider today and see what God will show you.

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