Reading time: two minutes. I was born into a different world in the 1950’s. Find an episode of “Leave It to Beaver” or “Ozzie and Harriet” if you need a clue. I know my grandchildren will be unprepared to face their world without knowing a second language and without developing an aptitude for cultural adaptability. It frightens me a little, I have to admit, but it is encouraging from an intellectual health point of view. The cross-cultural experience of my childhood was the Chimenti family next door who spoke only Italian at home. What we considered an anomaly is the norm today, and that lends itself to an increasing curiosity about the people around us. That’s a good thing. There’s so much learning to do these days, especially when it comes to learning about people. In order to be gospel proclaimers, we first have to be people listeners. This can make it hard on professional church workers, especially pastors. Our members have thousands of voices at their fingertips, including the voices of every pastor in America (and beyond) who has a podcast or a blog. (This isn’t turning into a “anti-blog blog, is it?) We’re going to be constantly compared to others who may well be more articulate and insightful than we are. That can be stressful. But listening for understanding is healthy. It’s true that some people are so open-minded that their brains fall out, but we all have so much to learn. Learning about people certainly doesn’t mean agreeing with them, but it’s hard to show love, care and compassion without knowing where a person is hurting. And it’s hard to witness to the truth without knowing the falsehoods upon which someone’s worldview is built. So we listen. We get better and better at asking questions. It helps us provide answers in a more meaningful way. It’s also true that listening is not just about preparing the way for witness. We could listen better inside the fellowship of the church. Our witness outside suffers because we don’t listen well inside. Caring for one another begins with hearing one another’s stories. Listening well is critical for living in the unity Christ has given us in a more attractive way. At a time of ever-increasing diversity, we build unity through our curiosity about one another. Listen well. You’ll learn some very interesting things. Thanks for reading. Do you serve on a professional church worker conference planning committee? Our staff has vast experience leading groups of all sizes from every church work background through innovative wellness programs custom designed to meet your needs. Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman today to begin exploring the possibilities or visit our website to see some of our ideas for your conference!