Almost a lifetime ago, Bob Hoskins’ BT adverts reminded us that ‘it’s good to talk’ and ever since we have seen the growth of the telecoms industry and an explosion in social media. Like others, my smartphone addiction needs careful monitoring, and so, I have chosen to say hello to the people that I pass when I walk down the street with the following caveat; to be willing to talk with folk that are up for conversation. It is so much more fun than the handheld screen.
A few weeks in and there have been remarkable results. I wait for eye contact and then nod, smile and say a casual greeting. Most people pass on, yet from this simple gesture, a number of conversations have been sparked. One guy shared the story of his life and the challenges he faces in retirement, and an elderly lady shared about her fears for her future as she is being relocated in a new development. Quite wonderful life stories that began with a simple smile and a ‘hello’.
In both these cases, there was no need to share a full gospel sermon to go into great depths about Jesus love for them, but there was an opportunity to say that the local church is a safe place to talk of these concerns, to find friendship and to learn about faith in Jesus. Perhaps the greatest witness was the time that I gave and the willingness to listen and respond. Both these conversations ended with the individuals saying thank you for taking the time. It cost me nothing but left me with a sense that I had been a friend and that listening to them had been a support.
As an ambassador, I do not need all the answers, to solve all the world’s problems, or correct all the mistakes of others. But providing a little salt or a smidgen of light can make a big difference in the lives of those we meet. When we make ourselves available, in Jesus name, who knows what can be achieved?
As Ambassadors, it is ‘good to talk’, what conversations can you have today?
Adopting the posture of a learner demands patience, time, listening, observation and most of all, an attitude of continuous learning. When you are in a new environment and do not know people, where do you begin? How do you progress?
Observe: where do people gravitate to? Watch were people go shopping, where they gather to relax, which community events are on, what is happening within the community. This will teach something of the lifestyle of the people around you.
Listen: As you open up conversations, listen to what people are saying and why they are saying those things. This is critical in listening and most often forgotten. As you listen, assume that you know nothing, put aside your own viewpoints, your own learning. The people whom you are listening to are the professors and you are the child in kindergarten – this may help you to listen well.
Patience and Time: Do not rush your listening, you will never have all the answers and if you jump to the wrong conclusions you will find yourself less effective. Time is the greatest gift that you give to your community.
Attitude of Continuous Learning: There is not a time when you know it all, the community constantly changes (especially if it is living!) and the answers from a previous season do not always translate to the latest season. We are all aware of people who have stopped learning and growing, their stagnation smells horrific, don’t become that person but be willing to learn afresh, change your ways and act accordingly.
The posture of a learner keeps you humble and prevents you from “lording it over others” – missional communities should be a place where we are constantly in change, growing, developing and loving. Adopt the position of a learner and see what happens…..you may be glad you did.
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” Leo Tolstoy
Unlike the song, loving is not easy. In fact it is hard, painful, messy, costly but it is also joyous, wonderful and exhilarating. I never forget being accused of ‘loving too much’ in reference to a team that I was leading. They meant this negatively but thankfully, I received it in a positive light. It was meant in a negative form as they believed that by loving my team, the hard questions would not be asked.
They missed the point – the hard questions were asked BECAUSE I loved the team. It was a necessary part of loving. Love is a two sided coin, hurt and pain on one side, joy and hope on the other. The good news is that love is a special gift and one that can be experienced by all people.
If you lead a team – love them and recognise that love can be costly but it will also be most rewarding.
For many of us, we run from our fears and seek to avoid them. What if we chose a different route and move towards them instead? Where would we discover the greatest growth?
Perhaps we need to look at things in a different way, take up courage and move in a different direction.
“Ain’t no love in the heart of the city,
There ain’t no love in the heart of town.
There ain’t no love, sure ’nuff is a pity,
Ain’t no love ’cause you ain’t around.” – Whitesnake
Listening to my iPod today and this forgotten song played on shuffle. The song was written with different meaning but it made me think of London and the context where I work and followed up a conversation that was prominent for me last week.
Where are the places where love is not around? Where are the places that have no love? Where are the unloved places? Where are the places with no Christian input, where love ain’t around?
Imagine a city where love is – because Christians are!
The phrase “People are your best asset” is one that I have both used and heard relayed to me on numerous occasions over the years and one that raises different responses, usually dependant on the context, from me personally. As a result, I have decided to do a couple of posts to try and sharpen my own thinking.
More often than not, the phrase/expression is used to show value and is used in a context to demonstrate that people are important, people are valuable and that we must not forget the importance of people. However, I struggle with calling people an ‘asset’. Why?
People are not commodities to be used but individuals or communities that should be valued
It implies ownership of people and this has dreadful connotations
It is about the best for ‘me’….whereas, it should be about us
These three things alone convince me that it is a phrase that may not be the most suitable to use. Is there a better way to express the same thing? I think that there is and that it is one known to us all, particularly in a Christian context. What about, “love your neighbour as you love yourself“? I think this has a much better feel to it, what do you think?