It was René Laennec, the inventor of the stethoscope who famously said, “listen to your patients, they are telling you how to heal them”. I was reflecting on this quote as we prepared to launch another year.
As Christians, so much of our effort goes into trying to tell people how they might be healed, saved or transformed and yet we don’t seem to spent any where near enough time listening in order to discern or diagnose what is really going on. We are sometimes so keen to share the love of God and Jesus plan for salvation that we roll out our message in a very uniform way as if every person was starting from the same point. Of course, experience tells us that this is not how people come to faith. In most cases, God is already at work in drawing people to himself and each individual has a different set of questions, hurts, concerns, freedoms and doubts that need to be worked through and wrestled with. It would seem obvious to me that our main tool should be listening to people’s story. I am yet to meet a person who is not interested in moving past their fears, gaining a greater degree of real freedom and in becoming more confident about the meaningfulness and purpose of their life. They are open to finding answers to their genuine questions but they may not be as open to hearing my answers to questions that they are not asking.
This year, we intend to rediscover the art of listening in our attempts to serve and encourage people towards living out the WAY of Jesus. I am convinced that if we take more time to hear people’s stories and questions, we will be much more effective in helping them find the real answers and healing that only Jesus can distribute.