Thursday, September 24, 2015

Being understood

To be understood is to be loved. To understand someone takes time, patience and lots of questions. In our busy world understanding others rearranges our agenda and for this reason is not a top priority. But people need to be understood in both the private world and the business world.

We have a Pastors group here in Brazil that meets and the Pastors are greatly encouraged. Not because the topic of conversation is anything great. The topic is each other and we share about our lives. We can understand each other because we all lead similar lives of busyness with ministry. Pastors are generally misunderstood people, and just the knowledge that there are others in the same boat you are in is an encouragement to keep moving on. Pastors do not have many places to go where they are understood.

The keys to understanding are listening and asking the right questions. I will never forget my wife having a crisis of faith early in our marriage. She called her mom and sister and they came straight over, sat on the bed, looked in her eyes, asked questions and listened. That is understanding. Sarah felt ok in pouring her heart out. The opposite would be showing up, asking questions, then interrupting and talking about one's own experiences, which is what usually happens. Most people in today's age are not listeners. Cell phones might help with this fact. I don't think I have to explain that one, just to say that our attentiveness to our cell phone keeps us from the reality of the face to face conversation we are having in the moment.

When listening, look into the other person's eyes. Confirm that you have heard by your body language as well as your speech. Ask questions like, "let me make sure I am understanding you correctly." Then summarize what they have said to show you heard them.

Christians should also do this in evangelizing. We need to understand those to whom we are talking. Their viewpoint will help you know where to start with them with the gospel. Not everyone will understand John 3:16 right away; they might have misconceptions about the God of the Bible. Or they may understand who the God of the Bible is but not understand the concept of sin. This is why we must understand their viewpoint before we tell them to bow their head. We also need them to know that you truly care about them and are not just pushing your beliefs on them.

Understanding others is serving others, loving others and as Christians we have a great opportunity to lead this chaotic world in understanding each other better and uniting us more.

PS: Don't ask my wife if I am 100% perfect at this, but you can ask her if I have gotten better since we got married.

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