This blog is meant to be an encouragement to you as you journey through your day. If you have a question about the life of faith, please feel free to email me. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I welcome the conversation.

Monday, January 9, 2012


I really don’t care why the computer in the sound/video room at church keeps crashing. I just wish it would stop crashing in the middle of the service, or when I am trying late on Saturday night to finish up the PowerPoint for Sunday morning.

I have little interest in the science of acoustics, but I am tired of getting feedback from the monitors on the platform. 

I’m happy that some folks find the functioning of a furnace so fascinating. I just hope they understand why my eyes glaze over when I ask them if we can make the Sunday school rooms a little less cold and they start telling me the details of the heating system. 

It’s an occupational hazard. We assume that because we care enough about something to study it, and even become a bit of an expert, others will care about it too. Whether our field is cars or computers or audio or heating, we like to talk about it - and sometimes we talk more than we listen. We give answers to questions people aren’t asking.

Even if our field of expertise is religion.

I get paid to talk about faith, and the Bible, and Jesus, and the church. One of the tasks I have within our faith community is “theologian-in-residence,” and preaching and teaching are two of my favorite things to do. 

I talk.  A lot. 

And sometimes I forget to listen. 

These days I’m preaching through the Old Testament. In 21 weeks. The entire Old Testament. (Imagine Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, all in one week.) Our Sunday school classes and adult conversations and small groups are joining in and covering the same texts. After we are done we will spend 10 weeks going through the entire New Testament.

The entire Bible in 31 weeks.

So, in my concern to cover all the material, tell all the important stories, and make sure we see the big picture, it is easy for me to answer questions no one is asking - to focus on issues and controversies that are of interest only to me. 

The only way I can avoid this occupational hazard is to stop talking and start listening. 

I need to listen to what is going on in the lives of the folks who are listening to me. If I hope to make relevant this past Sunday’s text from 1 Kings 12-16 (Rehoboam, Jeroboam -  the northern and southern kingdom “bad kings” stories), then I cannot focus my attention on what the experts say about the history of Israel and Judah. I also have to listen to what is going on in southern Chester County, PA in 2012. And in order to do that, I have to stop talking and start listening.

Oh, one other thing. 

I think the same problem of talking and listening doesn’t only apply to pastors and computer geeks and sound system experts and and HVAC technicians. 

I think the problem of talking and listening also applies to parents.

What are you learning when you stop talking and start listening?