A Listening Malfunction
Part of the deacons' leadership task is to lead by listening. This is a way to show deep caring, and it's step one in drawing members into partnership in the stewardship journey.
I was at a conference; it was an excellent conference; at one point I was assigned to a small group. In that group, something unpleasant happened. One of the group members took over. He happened to be a pastor. A nice fellow. A follower of Jesus. Within minutes my guts started to knot up as he discounted what others were saying in order to push his ideas on the group.
Leaders need to listen – nowhere more than in the Church. Why? It’s a vital way to show respect, caring, affirmation, and to build trust. HOW to listen well as a leader is not easy to learn. But NOT listening has consequences that are not pretty.
Neil deKoning, over in the Elders' drawer, has some fine things to say about listening. And there are plenty of books written about it. The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of listening well.
Sometimes I really get it. My wife gets my full attention as long as she wants it. But rarely. The person in my church who has a passionate message for the deacons gets my attention and I focus on listening and understanding. Sometimes. But I am really not a patient listener, even though I know how to LOOK like a good listener.
Deacons need to listen – systematically. Work your way through a random list of members and ask questions and listen listen listen. Take a walk and engage your neighbors in conversation and listen. Really listen. Seek to understand. This week I will ask God to open my ears and hush my mouth. I will pray about what I hear, and then I commit to sitting quietly and listening to what the Spirit brings to my mind.