It seems to me that we are living in an era when the tensions of disunity are mounting. One of the most common questions I’m asked in response to seasons such as these, especially with the racial unrest that has been crying out from our land, is “Pastor Bobby, what can I do about this?” You see, as Christians, it’s natural to want to fix the problem and be part of the solution, yet it’s easy to feel discouraged and helpless when considering what this actually means. To that end, for the next few days, I want to give you three practical steps you can take to be an ambassador for change in these tumultuous times. The first one is simply to listen. Unfortunately, social media is teaching us to do just the opposite, and instead of seeking understanding, digital communication encourages us to grandstand, to posture, to react, and to give unsolicited advice. When we are empowered by a platform, we feel invincible in our convictions and unwavering in our understanding. However, the truth is that having a loud voice online is not doing much to improve the condition of our world. For this reason, rather than taking a stand behind the screen, it’s best to assume a position of humility that says, “I don’t know everything, and I’m willing to hear your point of view.” The simple act of being an attentive, empathetic, and active listener can do more to better the state of our culture than a thousand Facebook or Twitter posts ever could. I’m not saying that these mediums don’t have their place, but it’s best to use them as a source of healing — to ask questions and seek input — because a good relationship is always a matter of listening well.
My friend, I encourage you to be someone who loves to listen to other people’s stories. As a disciple of Jesus, follow in His footsteps by slowing down, looking into the eyes of your neighbor, and choosing to see the fullness of their humanity. Engage with their experiences, ask questions, and be willing to cross the bridge of discomfort in order to hear the cries of their heart. No problem has ever been solved by shouting across the aisle, and you can only be a beacon for change when you refuse to “take sides” and purposefully engage in meaningful dialogue. By listening intently and prayerfully to the ones around you — whether your friends, family, or even strangers — you are validating rather than negating their experiences, and thereby facilitating a deep healing that has the power to transform yourself and the world as you know it.