This weekend I had the opportunity to speak at a Disciple Now retreat at my buddy Jay's Church in Taylor, Texas. Going into the weekend I felt expectant in anticipation for what God would accomplish. I've seen so many lives challenged and so many steps taken towards Christ through my many years of Disciple Now weekends. When we arrived in Taylor we heard a beautiful sound coming from the worship center. My friend David Quinones led worship for the weekend and believe me when I say, this dude's voice sits someone between an 8 and a 9, or between John Legend and Amos Lee for those musical friends out there. I have no idea why he hasn't blown up, but believe when I say that I think he will.
After the formalities of explaining to David why I speak instead of doing music these days, we settled in for the weekend. All the leaders were in place, sets ready to play and talks ready to be given. Then Jay broke the news to me. Most all of the leaders present for the weekend were from the Village Church in Dallas. This meant two things to me. They would be well discipled, articulate and theologically versed....and their pastor is Matt Chandler. Now for those who don't know who Matt Chandler is let me just give you a quick synopsis. The guy loves Jesus passionately, is currently fighting cancer like a real man, and he's the best communicator in America. Period. Yes, better than Obama and whatever pastor you place up against him. Not that its a competition, but really THE best these ears have heard. Ok moving on. So from this point on I knew these leaders weren't listening with virgin ears. They had heard a good talk every week they'd attended the Village, and a great talk for most of those weeks as well.
Now hear me when I say that I don't care if I compare with any speaker. Its not about that. God uses who God wishes to use in the way God wishes to use him or her. I put in the time in study and God graciously uses me and I'm forever grateful. Four students came to know Christ this weekend!
So these leaders were all very cool, but at the end of the weekend there was ONE guy who seriously became my hero. See when you're a communicator its very difficult to get fired up when you're standing in front of a non-active listening audience, especially one where many of the faces seem to be analyzing every word that comes out of your mouth. It can be intimidating at times as you seek to navigate the waters of skepticism while still seeking to bring a message of hope, love and faith simultaneously.
The reason this guy was such a hero for me this weekend was found in his simple nods, faint amens, and genuinely curious eyes. He wasn't looking for what he disagreed with or already knew, but instead what he could learn or affirm from the scriptures. There were moments when, though he doesn't know it, he pulled me through. I'm grateful to you Affliction Shirt wearing leader, who can shoot the lights out of the gym. Really, thank you.
On to the point. Yesterday I was back at LHC for a morning of community and worship. We kicked off a new series called Right Here, Right Now and as we sat in the audience listening to Mac's first message this thought scrolled across the front of my mind, "Sometimes I Can't Stand Myself!" In that moment I realized that I'm not a good listener. Sure I listen, and Mac is a great communicator, but I don't encourage anybody on stage from the crowd. It was so hard to realize that I'm probably not the guy that people look at to find comfort or encouragement, not because I'm hostile, but because I'm contemplative and I'm not thinking about serving the one on stage. Its selfish listening, and this from one of the only guys in the audience who knows how much better a talk can be when you feel like somebody is "with" you. Talk about a plank in my eye. In serving the speaker you serve crowd, because they wind up hearing a more confident and verbose message. Whether we like it or not pastors are not an island.
More to come...