Often preachers believe their strength stems from their oratory prowess. Pastors believe their success is measured through how much they are heard. I would like to turn this mentality on its head by saying the true measure of a pastor lays in just how much he listens.
Carl Trueman from Reformation 21 writes a very informative and compelling piece which nails much of the weakness of our modern pastoring methods.
He says of Bonhoffer’s words in that “Bonhoeffer do not just sound as if they mean something; they often really do mean something”.
`The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends His ear. So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.’
I am increasingly been shown the power of listening and not preaching through my role as a chaplain and telephone counsellor. One of my favourite passages of Scripture says,
I love the Lord for he heard my voice. Because he inclined his ear to me, I will love the Lord all of my life
Just perhaps if we as pastors listened to what society, culture and our congregations had to say. Listened to what we were going through. Listened to our pain and our hurts. Our successes and victories. Our fears and worries. Our needs and wants. Our struggles, sin and temptation. It would lead to true relationship being formed.
Maybe within this honest relationship will the voice of Christ spoken through the working of the Spirit of God be truly heard as we respond and build relationship according to what we hear.