September 17, 2010
BCOM has two main focuses that go hand in hand: missions and discipleship. Missions, after all, is essentially the making of disciples across borders (Matthew 28:19). It is no wonder then that such an emphasis is put on discipleship in the BCOM program. Discipleship is what all Christian efforts have in common. We feed, we clothe, we visit, we comfort, we educate, and we care for others for the prospect of making them devotees of Jesus, a.k.a disciples. That is the end goal.
Here are the two principles. If you practice them, then you will have an astounding impact on those around you.
#1. Listen more than you talk. As paradoxical as it sounds, if you want to speak into someone’s life, the best thing to do is listen to them. Don’t just listen for two minutes, or three, or five, or fifteen. Listen until your ears feel like they’re about to fall off! It occurred to me recently that there are two things that frustrate people. One of those things is when they as a person are not understood by others. Don’t just hear them out; actually seek to understand. People can tell when you’re not paying attention. Also, don’t be too quick to give them your input, even when you see the blatant error in their reasoning. Listen to them. Don’t interrupt, and don’t talk over them. For them to receive the Gospel or an admonition, they need to open up their heart to you, and to open up their heart, they need to feel comfortable with sharing it. Let them breathe.
Indeed, most people are starved of what they need: a listening ear. The listening ear is the golden key to making friends in any culture. The desire to be listened to is intrinsic to being human.
Because being understood is a human need and not just a desire, people will go to desperate measures to fulfill that need. If they talk and no one opens their ears to understand them, then they will raise their voice. It’s only common sense that if you are not heard then you must talk louder. If the voice doesn’t prevail, then people will resort to extreme clothing or lifestyle, hoping their appearances and actions will do the talking for them. I myself came out of a goth lifestyle; I hoped inwardly that my black trench coat and spikes would compel people to put their arms around me and understand. There’s many a young people, clad in black and chains, hoping that they will be understood by their appearances.
#2. Share the why behind everything. Another thing that greatly frustrates all people is when they don’t understand something. Have you ever become frustrated with a computer or a television because it’s doing something abnormal and you don’t know why? It seems to me that all people have the commonality of being agitated by that which they don’t understand. People will become unsettled when they don’t understand a system (conducive to anarchy), a rule (rebellion), a ritual (xenophobia), or even a people group (racism).
As you can see, a lack of understanding can lead to all kinds of erroneous conclusions. We then, as believers, must share the Word of God with the utmost clarity. We can give them the scriptures, but what’s more important than getting the Bible in their hands is getting God’s motive in their hearts. Why did God die on the cross? It’s the why behind the what that breaks the stony heart. It’s because God loves them, that’s why.
Disciple them with the why and the what. The what by itself is a cold, lifeless rule that yields no fruit, only frustration. When we know the why behind handlebars, stop signs, hardhats, curfews, and so on, we can begin to appreciate them. When we know the why behind the Bible, it is then that the book becomes so much more than a book.
After listening and understanding the person, you will be able to customize your words to fit how their ears receive things. If you don’t know how to tailor your words to them specifically, then I got news for you buddy, you need to practice step 1 a whole lot more.