4. LEARN WHY IT MATTERS
As stated in the first of four previous posts about listening, a contingency of the relationship between sheep and shepherd is for the flock to be familiar with the voice of the one shepherding. Similarly, the shepherd must know the collective voice of the flock, and in order to know the voice, the shepherd/pastor must listen intently to each individual situation. The flock expects a shepherd to listen; likewise, a congregation expects a pastor to listen.
Although some expectations of pastors are nonsensical, inappropriate, or unattainable and necessary to ignore, this is an expectation worth remembering: the flock expects a pastor to listen for what is said, what is left unsaid, and what is necessary to be spoken on their behalf.
The act of speaking on behalf of someone is part of the priestly function of a minister, and it is not isolated to salaried church employees either. If speaking on behalf of someone is a priestly function of each follower of Christ, should it not lead us (all Christ followers) to place an importance on learning how to listen to others? Jesus said:
And you, beloved, are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. Similarly it would be silly to light a lamp and then hide it under a bowl. When someone lights a lamp, she puts it on a table or a desk or a chair, and the light illumines the entire house. You are like that illuminating light. Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it.
Learning to listen matters because the world is watching and waiting to be illuminated, and you cannot brightly shine light when you do not have “eyes to see and ears to hear.” How can the world see if you cannot see for yourself? Can the blind lead the blind? With your decision to be a disciple of Jesus, your public witness comes with expectations to abide in God. Devotion to practicing your faith on a daily basis is a training exercise in sharpening your eyesight. Additionally, your public profession to be a disciple of Jesus also comes with some additional expectations from other people that cannot be neglected.
When you gather for a family reunion, everyone circles up with the savory meal at the center of the room, the family takes a quick headcount, pauses, and expects you—the Christian—to offer a blessing.
Likewise, when the family gathers—eyes puffy and swollen because a loved one is no longer with us in the room—the family pauses and expects you to say something because others cannot get past the lump in their throat.
Even when it’s not your family by blood, when a crisis occurs and doubt and fear fill the room, it is a cause for pause for someone, and the expectation is that you will fix it with the right combination of vowels and consonants in the form of a prayer or the right combination of gestures.
Keep in mind, many a time will occur when you are expected to say something, do something, or be something, and the last thing that others need at this time is for you to say something you don’t believe to be true, do something that doesn’t show care, and be something that you can never fully be. You can resemble Christ, but you’ll never be the Savior. You can and should show people the light, but a good, seasoned listener also knows that he/she is not the source of the light, nor all wisdom and life. Only Jesus can provide you with the right words to say, the right wisdom for when to speak, and the right attitude to deflect attention towards God.
I may be perceived to be a good listener, but I am quick to say I need more practice. Our church staff includes qualified personnel gifted in pastoral care skills, and we also rely on divine empowerment to continue maturing our ministry. The Life Group leaders of Harris Creek are expected to be willing listeners, and they are eager to develop skills to better shepherd their groups. We need the Lord’s help in learning how to listen, and when we have a better understanding for when to shut up, what to hear, how to show value, and why it matters, we’re well on our way to listening as Christ listens to his flock.
 #Baptist #priesthood
 Matthew 5:14-16 – The Voice
 Matthew 13:15