By April Terry (personal blog http://faithwarming.blogspot.com)
One part of my day job is to train adults in the use of software applications. As part of that job, I have been slowly learning ways to get and gain the attention of those in my classes. Adults are often not any better at paying attention when in an instructional situation than children are, and when it comes to hand-held technology, adults are often worse. So, it’s important to develop ways to re-engage students and keep them on task during the progress of the training.
I have a naturally loud voice. People never have trouble hearing me at the back of a room as my voice can be as good as any amplifier, and when I am losing the attention of my students, it’s tempting for me to just get louder and louder. One of the first things that I learned in training is that louder isn’t necessarily better and it doesn’t necessarily mean that your students will stay engaged. So, we sometimes use little things like personal space proximity to get someone’s attention. If I see a person playing with their cell, I simply walk forward and stand directly in front of them. It works nearly every time. The person will stop and put their cell phone away immediately.
The same is true when we try to engage others in conversations, especially when it comes to conversations about faith. I think a lot of Christians try to be the loudest voice when it comes to talking about faith. We try to have the final word and be the final authority, but that almost never retains the attention of those we engage. In fact, it often has a detrimental effect. During church service this Sunday, I noticed how soft-spoken the pastor was, and yet, it was a very compelling message. Sometimes, a soft voice is actually more compelling than a loud one.
Maybe there is a place for a preacher pounding the pulpit and shouting a message, but in the everyday, we have to find ways to share our faith with a whisper instead of shout. I’ve always felt that the best way to be heard is to just be myself. Of course, that also comes with knowing who you are and being secure within yourself. When we understand ourselves, we are better able to engage others in positive ways with confidence and with love.
Most Christians would agree that the gospel is a beautiful and awesome story, but it’s not quite as beautiful when it’s shouted. It’s most beautiful when it’s told as a love story and when it’s placed within a context of love and compassion. When the story is told from your own perspective with beauty and wisdom, it comes to life for those who are listening. Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be told in literal terms and it blooms out of our actions and character. So often our actions speak louder than words.
In John 15:16, Jesus tells his disciples that they have not chosen him, but he has chosen them and that they should, “go and bring forth fruit…” Fruit grows from the blossom of a tree that is rooted in good earth. It’s something that is pure and nurtured, not fabricated or faked. Growing fruit is one of the most natural processes in this world and our faith should feel exactly the same way.
May 7th, 2012 · 1 Comment
Categories: DE Thoughts