It’s been a good year since I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and type my thoughts out. Now that I’ve finished my first year of teaching, I’m planning on making time now to take several hours from my week to share my thoughts on life. There’s several reasons that prompt me to stay committed to writing. One, I am a teacher and always encouraging my students to write every day and share their thoughts. Two, writing is like exercising…the more you do it, the stronger and more efficient you become.
July signifies that we’re in the middle of the year, and we have about five more months before we see 2015. I took July 1st as a time to reflect and see where my life was this year and plan where I want to go for the remainder of 2014. I started off by praying, and in the middle of it got this crazy idea to start something new that I had never attempted to try. This challenge was to listen to the audio Bible for the remainder of this year (It’s something I can either sit down and have read to me, or listen to while driving).
As I entered this midway point of 2014 I came before God and said, “God, here is the list of things I need work in my life…” As I was naming the list I felt like I was not being heard. Then as I started to listen to the Word, all of a sudden certain themes of the Old Testament passages started to resonate within me. I felt God telling me, “Chris these are the things that I’ll be working in your life right now, hold on for this journey.”
I went through the ending of the book of 2 Kings, where gossip was evident. The passage the came to mind that shared the same concept comes from Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) which states, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” After reading, I started to think how easy it is to get caught up the latest news of the people around us (thanks to social media…lol). I was challenged to reflect and ask myself, “What business do I have sharing with you someone else’s business?” As a Christian, we could even present gossip in prayer request format such as, “Help me pray for (insert name) they’re going through…” Gossip is a cancer to the soul, it is a toxin that destroys friendships, and it usually isn’t meant to edify those around us.
So how do we avoid it? Great question, and something that I’m still asking myself. The two responses that I would probably find myself saying would be the following:
- “I honestly don’t feel comfortable talking about that person while they’re not here.”
- “Why don’t you talk to that person and explain to them how you really feel?”
Some great resources that I’ve read (and will probably dive into again) come from John Townsend and Henry Cloud in their Boundaries series. They’re accredited Christian psychologist that know how to break down the barriers of passive aggressiveness and encourage readers to be assertive through the love of Christ. So if you do not like confrontation or people getting “all up in your business” then check them out.
The next theme that really spoke to me was the power of listening. This past year one of my basketball players represent our school site in the Chula Vista District speech contest. He opened his speech by stating, “There are two kinds of people in the world…the ones who walk into a party and say ‘here I am!’ And the others who walk into a party and say, ‘there you are!’” The opening to this particular speech was the first thing I thought of as I dove into the Word. I began thinking “how many times have I been in a conversation and had something quick to respond or ‘one up’ the story being shared with me?” I started to think, “What would Jesus do in this type of social setting?” Looking through biblegateway.com and searched the keyword “listen.” I found this verse that perfectly described Jesus in an interesting social situation. Here’s the verse:
- “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” Luke 2:46 (ESV)
This particular verse is found in the story when Jesus was left behind by his parents and he spent a few days hanging out with the teachers of his day. The verbs that intrigued me were that Jesus was “sitting,” “listening,” and “asking.” Understand that Jesus is 12 years old. I couldn’t sit still for the life of me at 12, yet even listen or ask a good question (it was more like argue and ask annoying questions).
So what does this all mean? Basically for me this means that I want to only speak life and what is edifying to those in my household, my close friendships, my co-workers, and church family. Next, giving my undivided attention to those I engage in dialogue with. Not taking out my phone to check on text messages, the latest Instagram post, who tweeted, or whatever. I want to be fully engaged in the conversation through listening and asking good questions (I’ll probably write another blog on asking good questions, it’s something complex that I’m learning to teach young adolescents).
Be encouraged reader! I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect, but that’s the beauty of waking up daily to keep on learning and hustling in our everyday lives.