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The Art of Listening

What does it mean to release someone into their greatest purpose? Is the Father interested in actually being involved in that process? Is the Father actually interested in process or is he only concerned with the heart of the matter? These are a few thoughts and questions I have for this week’s episode.

On my walk today I was praying and thinking about my slogan – Releasing You into Your Greatest Purpose. This came out from my original statement that I’ve used for years, Connecting People with People and People to Purpose. This original slogan or statement, although true, had very little personal attachment to those I came into contact with. It’s a very general statement. Sort of like saying, ‘one of my values is relationship.’ Well, everyone has that value, don’t they? I mean really think about it. Every person in some form or fashion whether it be to pursue great relationships or to build friendships or to hide in a room and never come out, each has a relationship of some kind. What about those who take advantage of others. Even that is a form of relationship. Not one I’d want but in its own way is a form of relationship – manipulative as it is. Do you follow where I’m going with this? Statements that are general in nature can apply to the masses. Church’s write out their values and in reading them I’m often confused or left with little understanding of what they ultimately stand for. The original statement then – Connecting People with People and People to Purpose, was not a bad statement, but it didn’t cause you to connect with what I was doing in real life. It didn’t actually connect on a personal level. Erin, who works for our ministry mentioned one day that what I was actually wanting to say was more relational and helpful in its approach. Thus, the new and improved slogan – Releasing You into Your Greatest Purpose.

When I first wrote it down, it felt very prideful. It was as if I was saying I’m the one person who is going to release you into your greatest purposes on earth. That’s not true. I’m not going to be that one person that causes you to reach your fullest potential. I’d be a fool to say that, but I may be able to have some input into your greatest purposes on the earth. I pray this is true. I want to add into your journey of exploration. I want to hear what you have going on and be able to pull from my decades of experiences, risk taking, projects, opportunities, failures, successes, etc.!

What then, do I mean when I say, Releasing You into Your Greatest Purpose? It goes back to Ephesians 4:12 and my belief in what that passage represents and how the Father is using this principle of scripture in this new era.

The Passion Translation reads verse twelve as; And their calling is to nurture and prepare all the holy believers to do their own works of ministry, and as they do this they will enlarge and build up the body of Christ.

Who is Paul referring to when he writes...and their calling? Who are they? They are the 5 gifts mentioned in verse 11. If you don’t know these then read verse 11. The 5 have a big job! They also have a simple instruction! Did you notice what ‘they’ are supposed to do? It’s clear cut. There is no hidden meaning behind the Greek word gift. There is no underlying mystery. It’s simple and clearly stated – these five are to nurture and prepare all the holy believers to do their own works of ministry…PERIOD! That’s it.

If you remember Episode 11 of my podcast, The New Era Sign Post, this is what I believe the Father has written on the entry gate to this New Era we have entered – Ephesians 4:11-13. One reason may very well be that we need leaders to nurture and prepare us to get out there and reach those around us. To be the Grand Influencers that we have been created to be. The Father desires to activate us on the earth. He has us here for more than our work. Although, it may be our job that provides that avenue of affective influence.

Where was I? Releasing you into your greatest purpose. See the tie in. For me I want to be one of those nurturers – a preparer so you can fulfill your greatest purposes and positively and powerfully affect those in your sphere of influence.

The question is, how do I do this and how will you be released? Will you hang in there with me for a little while longer as I stir this pot a bit? I appreciate your faithful listening and your responses that you’ve offered through our website at ByronEasterling.com. I think the interaction is a huge part of this releasing issue. Let’s start there. I’m going to jump back to the 4th century and the idea of the Socratic Method. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

The Socratic method, is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions. It is named after the Classical Greek philosopher Socrates

The portion I want to focus on is the idea of the cooperative but argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions. You see, I believe information is necessary, but I also believe we have almost unlimited access to information with a few clicks on a keyboard. Information is not the end. It’s the means to an end. In the past, information was often expressed by one individual and therefore taken as the truth and therefore unequivocal in its truth – generally without discussion. This is where I believe the Socratic Method has opportunity to enhance our understanding and insight as we discuss and interact together. As a side note; I’m not promoting Socrates or his philosophy I’m suggesting his way of interacting is a useful tool for us in these days. So, my question is, what does interaction do?

One – it allows for each person to have a voice. It doesn’t mean that every voice is accurate, but every voice carries importance and worth. Without listening to other voices, we set ourselves or someone else in a position that pastors have had to carry as a burden for too many centuries. The all-knowing all-seeing pastor or teacher. There’s only One that I know of who is all-knowing and all-seeing and it ain’t me and it ain’t you.

Another opportunity this method creates is the depth of concept. When I first started thinking about being inclusive in my conversations on a topic of study or interest, I didn’t like it. Guess who that was with? It’s usually the one your closest to. In my case it’s Crystal. She thinks way super different than I do. Truly if I think up, she thinks down. We are so opposite. Of course, it makes for some vibrant discussions but as I have slowly learned, the insights I have gained by taking her thoughts and ideas and pondering these along with mine. What does it do? It opens up a world of understanding. It broadens my world view. It creates a depth I didn’t have on a topic that now has opened up new ways to approach life. It creates value in the other voice and that voice should have value. That’s called respecting another’s thought process. It doesn’t mean you have to agree but it’s wisdom to stop and listen. It’s not only a smart thing to do, it’s a wise thing to do. Wisdom is a powerful tool in our lives. It will cause prosperity in so many ways. If I can gain Christ’s wisdom in my life, I have gained a most pleasant gift.

One more side note; argumentative is not about anger or combating someone. The definition of argumentative is; given to expressing divergent or opposite views.

Along with this idea of listening and gaining wisdom I have discovered a wonderful benefit to hearing another’s thoughts. It draws me back into a discussion with the Father because I now have a variant that wasn’t there before, and I want to hear his heart on the matter. I need to hear his heart on it. Through the art of listening, could this be one-way God shows us through that friend, collogue, spouse or family member another facet of himself?

I want to challenge you today to do something that is possibly out of your ordinary. Call up a friend and ask if they have time to talk for a bit. Bring to the table a thought you have said you will never change your mind on. A concept, idea, or principle that you have locked into that when you hear opposing ideas it creates friction or maybe even anger. Then…ask the person to share their thoughts. Here’s the key. Don’t interrupt them. Don’t argue negatively with them. Simply listen and take it in.

I’m not asking you to believe their ideas on the topic. I’m asking you to open your heart to listen to a friend without the need to offer a response or comment on what you believe. Then…over the following few days take a little time each day. Maybe when you’re driving somewhere, or you have a quiet moment to yourself and ask the Father what he thinks of your friend’s response. Write these responses down because I have a sense that it will be very different than what you expected.

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Until next time --- Have a great day!