Sometimes I can really get it wrong. I was meeting with a few contractors today on a jobsite to get an estimate for a project. The usuall three showed up and we proceeded to go over the work to be completed. I thought to myself, “I don’t know why this “3rd string” guy keeps showing up; he’s never competitive. Kind of a waste of time for him and me. He’s never really been able to compete with the other two for the last year or so. If he doesn’t change something soon, he will loose out on a lot of work.” I was thinking back to some of the other job walks he had shown up on. He never really spoke up much, never asked too many questions. He’s pretty mild mannered, which is not the norm among contractor personalities! I had formed my opinon of him; he didn’t know how to adjust to get the work. I kinda questioned his ability to estimate. I’m sure his boss was wondering if he was missing something on these job walks. Today though was a little different. After the other contractors had left, he pulled me aside and wanted to ask me a couple of questions. This was a first, and I was about to get an education.
I have found that our culture today actually efforts to push us away from having real conversations with everyday people. We don’t really have to pick up the phone anymore to communicate. In fact in the businees world we are told we “better write it down. Email everything so there is a paper trail to cover your butt.” (Hillary really should of thought twice about that.) We can text a message in an instant, instead of talk. We can bank online instead of going into the bank and talking to the teller. We can shop online instead of actually going to the store. And, when a story breaks, everyone jumps to social media to voice their opinion. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube all create an environment for your voice to be heard, and while that can be a good thing, the problem is that we don’t take the time to filter our thoughts about much of anything. We quickly form an opinoin, defend our stand, make a judgement and blast it out for all the world to hear, often without having all the facts. We react, and often too quickly, and sometimes in complete ignorance of the situation at hand.
I remember growing up in the late 60’s and 70’s and we actually had to wait to get our information either from the morning paper or wait for the evening news. I know, can you believe it! No Facebook streaming propaganda type headlines trying to grab you, no mass attack from the talking head reporters or commentators trying to educate you on “truth.” And, if you wanted to voice your opinion, you would have to get out a piece of paper and a pen and actually write out your “blast”, put it in an envelope, find a stamp, and drop it in a mail box; and, in a bout a week it would get to the newspaper or TV station. That was a good process. It took time. That time alowed you to filter your thoughts as you wrote them down. When the pen would dry up have way through your letter, you might have to start it over. This allowed you to proces your opinion and maybe even to change it. There were no emoji’s to take the place of expressing yourself with your actual voice. The news would spark conversation and people would talk over a cup of coffee or a meal, at the water cooler at the office and process the information together. Yeah there were arguments, but it is in the listeng and the dialogue that common ground can sometimes be struck.
Jesus had a couple of these kind of friends. Actually they were some of his closest decsiples. When Jesus was traveling from city to city, they came into a village in Samaria and the people there basically rejected Him and his brigade. That didn’t sit well with the “sons of thunder”. In fact when James and John heard the news of Jesus being rejected, they immidiately said to Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them]?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.” (Luke 9:54, 55) It’s easy to see that they overreacted to the situation. But honestly, I cannot say that I would not have done the same thing! The disciples knew that the Samaritans were a hated people group among the Jews, and how dare they reject the Messiah! Thankfully, Jesus, being wisdom incarnate, knew that these people’s opinion of Him or his group of friends would not change who He was or change His mission. Even Peter, when the soldiers came for Jesus, wanted to take off the soldiers head, but only getting his ear with the swing of his knife. But Jesus, even knowing the evil intent of the soldier’s hearts, reached out to the soldier and healed his ear. Overreacting. Casting judgement. Just in too big of a hurry.
As a Christian, it’s tough to slow down and process things in our fast paced get- it-now world. But, we have been called by Jesus to represent Him in all things. At least that’s the goal. Some of us get there slower than others, we stumble and have to reset, almost daily. I certainly had to reset after my conversation with the “3rd string” contractor today. When we walked over to my truck he asked if he was legally bound to turn in a bid for this project or for any future work. He wanted to know if he could terminate his contract without any liability. I was getting ready to put on my Contract Administrator hat and remind him of the process and procedures that are in place…blah, blah, blah. He went on to explain that his best friend and business partner had suddenly passed away. It was just about a year ago that he was diagnosed and passed away within a two week window. He was there, alive and well running their successful business together with their families, and then two weeks later, he had lost 50 lbs. and suddenly died in a hospital bed. They were friends for 20 years. They had been in business for a long time. His partner was the field guy and he was the office guy and had been struggling to keep the business going forward by himself. I could sense that, though it had been nearly a year, it was all still very fresh in his heart and in his eyes. I realized that about the same time I started getting those non-competitive bids from him, was about the same time his friend had passed. I had no clue, but I had certainly formed my opinion.
Conversations can be very educational. Jesus was the master at conversation. He listened, and always spoke directly to the heart of the matter. Man I wanna be like Him. He has given every one of us a mission, those of us who call upon His name; to go out into the world with intentionality, and represent Him, not ourselves or our opinions. We are always to strive to represent His heart. We can’t always do that on the fly, nor should we be compelled to. Don’t be forced to react, don’t feel that you have to say something, anything just because the world around you is acting in a panic or out of utter need to just to be heard. Slow it down. Seek His face. Read His words. Filter your thoughts and opinions through the grid of the truth of scripture. The Holy Spirit is so good at giving revelation regarding issues, situations and even people’s circumstances. Trust His Spirit to speak to you regarding those in your realm of influence before you cram someone, or some situation, into your pre-fabbed box. Listen.