The great challenge to listen.
Hi everyone (this is Jason speaking) a few weeks ago I sat down with a friend that was well connected in the Mebane area and asked him if he would connect me to some people in the community. He gave me a myriad of names, numbers, and emails and one of them was Gaddy. I never actually followed up with Gaddy but six weeks later I get a message from this guy David Gaddy saying that we should meet up! We have now met a few times over coffee and I am sure we will be good friends and partners as the vision of Storied Church moves forward. You will begin to hear from people in their own words why the vision and values of Storied Church resonate with their story.
I stood in the back of the room as a sixteen-year-old student told his peers, “Your story matters, because no one can deny your story.” He continued that if you are a Christian, share your story about your faith and conversion experience. I stood in the back wondering how far was he willing to extend that thought…
My name is David Gaddy. I am 33 years old. I was a youth pastor in a handful of conservative Baptist churches for thirteen years, eight of that full-time. I have seen, listened, and been part of plenty of stories. I started off as a conservative guy in my early years. There is a strange reality about stories though.
Stories have the potential to change people. They changed me. They could change you too.
The great to challenge to all people is to sit at a table. Maybe your table is laid out with food. Maybe your table is smaller within a coffee shop. Maybe your table is empty, but someone who is trusted is on the other side. The great challenge is to sit and listen.
We move so fast, we have been conditioned to hear what we want, that we rarely just sit and listen to a story.
In my own moments of sitting and listening, I have heard many things:
Teens wanting to run away from home
A member of a couple wanting to leave a marriage
A person revealing their deepest secrets
However, three things happened to me in thirteen years of listening to story after story after story. First, I gained the trust of another person. Why? How? I did not insert my thought or opinion. I listened to their story and experience and took it as is. It is their story and it is valuable. Second, their story drove me to compassion or increased my threshold of compassion. You see people all the time who are completely apathetic to so many things. It is because they are stuck and stagnant. They do not allow a story of any sort to impact them in any way. Compassion breeds vibrancy and vibrancy leads to life. For myself as a follower of Jesus, compassion is key to the whole Jesus thing. The compassion I see Jesus live out, I attempt to live out. Jesus life was pretty vibrant. I want that vibrancy to flow through me. The last thing that listening to a story will do is cause you to do is rethink how you see God working. The Jewish Rabbis call it Shivim Panim la’ Torah (The Torah has Seventy Faces). For the Jews, every generation added their own interpretation to the readings of their sacred books. Their interpretation of how they interacted with a divine source cause others to turn the diamond of their own belief and maybe see it from another face. Someone’s story can do that for you. A story can help you see from another angle.
All you must do is sit…and listen.