Friday, October 3, 2014
Building People of Substance for Works of Power
Heard a disturbing story from Dallas about an Ebola virus patient. This guy showed up at an ER with a fever after arriving from Africa. According to reports, he told the intake person he had just arrived from Liberia a few days before, but whoever did the triage did not pass this on to the diagnosing physician. As a result, this fellow was sent home to expose his family and many others to a life-threatening infection. We had a disturbingly similar experience a few weeks ago when my mother-in-law, who is 90, began having intermittent dizzy spells, paralysis, and slurred speech. At the ER a nurse interviewed her. At that particular moment, she was asymptomatic, and coherent, so, without listening to information from her family, they relegated her to the waiting room for nearly three hours. There she had a full-blown, bilateral, brain stem event which finally got someone’s attention, and very nearly killed her. (She is much better, thank the Lord). I know these are good folks who genuinely want to help. They just got caught up in the process of filling forms and moving inventory. As a result, the boxes got checked, but the ball got dropped.
These episodes reminded me of the importance of paying attention: Listening not to my thoughts and pre-conceptions, but listening to the individual, unique person God has sent for my help. Most of us, including me, tend to pay attention to our own inner dialogue. When we should be listening, we are busy rehearsing our witty responses. We have a set of standard remedies for common problems, so we look for evidence that this person is suffering from something for which we have an cure. We listen just enough to attach our prejudice, label the person, and then wait for our opportunity to recite our canned prescription, “Oh, you have unforgiveness. Let me give you five steps to freedom.” Similarly, I fear we preachers often spend our Sunday soapbox time giving answers to questions that no one is asking and cures for ills that nobody has. It might pay to listen a bit, first to the bleating of our sheep, then to the voice of the Greater One on the inside Who knows the question and the answer.
Somebody Said: When a person comes to you wishing to talk, you must learn how to listen before God. As he speaks, you need to be able to decipher three different kinds of words: 1) the words spoken, 2) those unspoken, and 3) those hidden within his spirit. Watchman Nee
Scripture Reading: Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (Jas 1:19 NLT)
Never check the boxes at the expense of hearing the patient. Here are three keys to making a good diagnosis and prescribing an effective treatment: First, value the person enough to listen attentively to the whole story, complete with eye contact. Second, forget about the need to impress the person. Ask the tough questions you need to accurately assist them. (After you ask a question, listen to the answer, please) Finally, listen to the Spirit on the inside. He loves them more than you do, and He is far more insightful. And one addendum, don’t be too proud to be ignorant: If you are baffled, say so. You can still pray even if you don’t know what to pray for as you ought (Romans 8:26).