Editor’s Note: In forming Resonate Global Mission, Resonate staff developed six core postures that are essential for effective mission work in and through the Christian Reformed Church. While the postures can stand alone, we’ve asked staff around the globe to give them some substance by sharing examples from their own experiences on the mission field.
This second post focuses on the posture of Listening and is written by Rich Braaksma, Resonate’s regional leader for Western Canada. You can read the first post in the series here.
“God gave you two ears and only one mouth for a reason!” my Sunday School teacher declared, looking at me intently to make sure I understood. I did. Apparently, I needed to be reminded more often than most. Maybe that’s why as a kid, by God’s sovereignty, on my first trip to summer camp I was placed in a cabin where we were assigned a bible verse to make a song out of. The result was an artless tune which is nevertheless permanently ingrained in my mind: “My dear brothers [and sisters] take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak, slow to become angry…”
Quick to listen. Slow to speak. That reminder, of course, comes from James 1:19. And working in the field of “mission” those words, that perspective, that posture is immensely helpful.
In naming the CRC mission agency, Resonate Global Mission, the singular “mission” (as opposed to “missions”) was chosen intentionally. There is only one mission. God’s mission. Whether it is over many seas in a far off place, on the campus of a big university, in the dense urban center of a North American city, or on your doorstep in the neighborhood where you live … there is one mission. God’s mission. And every church, every workplace, every school, every individual heart, “every square inch” is the site of that mission — God moving, calling, revealing, shaping, and making things new.
But who is up for that task? Being a mission agency called to support, encourage, and fan into flame what God is doing … everywhere!? Who can do that?
No one. God alone.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a way forward. A big clue concerning that way forward might just be what my Sunday School teacher was onto so many years ago. God gave us one mouth but two ears. Brothers and sisters take note, we should be quick to listen and slow to speak. What is God doing? What’s bubbling up? Are we listening? With our ears? “Listening” with our eyes open? Our minds attentive? Our hearts expectant?
What a gift to know that wherever we go, God is there already. And what a privilege to be invited in, by grace, to participate with God in what he is doing. But don’t jump in too fast! Start by listening. God is full of surprises, doing incredible things in unlikely places and through unlikely people; even you and me. So speak to us Lord, through your still small voice, in the words of friend and stranger, in your Scripture, in the contexts you’ve placed us … give us ears to listen and hear your voice.