Did You Really Hear What You Heard?

Our church heard sort of a groundbreaking message this weekend.

(I told you part of it last time. )

I suppose in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t earth-shattering. A buddy used to keep things in perspective by quipping, “It can’t be that important if more than a billion Chinese folks don’t even know about it.”

But the Kingdom of God isn’t built on earth-shattering events. It’s built by ordinary people and local churches taking risks, doing what they can, where they are, with what they have. In the life of our church, and hopefully our community, this message signaled the casting of a significant vision.

What I found curious was the varied reactions I heard. So I asked a few folks their thoughts about the main point of the message.

Frankly, it seemed like we didn’t attend the same service. Certainly we didn’t come away with anything close to the same call to action.

It’s tempting to blame the pastor, but Jesus experienced the same issue. People have deployed His words in ways He never intended for two thousand years.

I shouldn’t be surprised. We’d like to believe we’re neutral observers, but in fact we all listen, watch, and interpret through unique filters composed of our experiences and biases. We may know the same information, but that’s no guarantee we’ll reach similar conclusions.

It’s not about what you look at. It’s about what you see.

It’s not about the words someone says. It’s about what you hear.

It’s not about the evidence. It’s about what you do with it.

Two lessons for me:

Don’t assume others heard what I meant to say. In fact, it might be good practice to assume they didn’t hear it quite as I intended.

Listen. Ask questions. Seek feedback. Say it another way.

That’s one reason I value your comments, whether on the blog or Facebook. They help me know where I missed the mark.

Don’t assume I heard what was really said. Take notes. Be more aware of my personal biases. Ask questions, especially if something doesn’t quite fit.

Too often I jump to conclusions based on initial impressions. I react rather than choosing a considered response.

I’m biased and I’m prejudiced. So are you–in different places and directions.

Awareness and acceptance of those realities are first steps toward seeing and hearing a bit more clearly.

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Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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