Talk Less, Listen More.
DAY 3 – TALK LESS, LISTEN MORE.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.
James 1:19, NIV
In a recent panel of diverse ethnic backgrounds, I had the chance to talk with ministry leaders within our church about their experience with racism. It was educational; from all parts of the country and various time periods, they all described this thing that we define as racism. It’s something they would say they have been dealing with their whole life. This saddens me as American pastor. It saddens me for what they struggle with, and it saddens me for how I’ve not be aware of it. In Eric Mason’s book called “Woke”, he makes an urgent call for Christians to confront racism and social injustice. The title of the book, “Woke”, is actually a word that I have never heard before. It means to be alert to injustice in society, especially racism. This is something that I think can’t happen without listening and learning more.
As I spent dozens of hours reading and listening to others on the subject of racism, as preparation for learning more myself, it has become clear that one of the best things the white church can do is listen to the voice of their black friends. They are hurting, and we as brothers and sisters in Christ need to demonstrate compassion and care. By listening to one another we can learn from one another. It’s interesting that as white guy, I found myself feeling confident and comfortable enough to recently ask my black ministry partner, Pastor Ellis, if he preferred to be called black or African American. He’s said black. Additionally, I learned that as a white person, we want to say things like, “I am color blind”. But my black friends have clarified that they don’t appreciate these kinds of statements. They know and we know that we all see color. This is where God’s creation of humanity is unique. He’s created all people in His image, male and female; but there are great differences too, and these differences should not be ignored but rather appreciated and celebrated (Genesis 1:26-17).
In talking less and listening more, there are many lessons to be learned. God has made us uniquely different. No two people are the same. Our culture, our skin color is different. Yet we all are a family through Jesus Christ. We have the same Father and are part of the same church family. That’s the mystery of the Gospel that the Apostle Paul spoke about (Ephesians 3:1-10).
I would encourage you to spend time talking and cultivating the relationship of those who are not the same race as you. Ask hard questions, discuss and debate current issues with a commitment to being courteous and kind.