You know how Eric Liddell says, “When I run I feel His pleasure?” For me, that happens when I’m speaking. I’m not saying it’s a breeze to get up in front of people – with my hearing loss it’s always stretching whenever the Lord asks me to do this – but once I’m up there, I could keep going for hours and it’s amazing how time flies… for me.
But when the shoe is on the other foot, no matter how great a speaker is, when I’m sitting there listening, it’s hard to sit for a long time! Besides how much can you process in one sitting?! Too much of a good thing can certainly be too much!
I think there’s a reason Eutychus’ story is included in the Bible – and not just to demonstrate God’s power to raise the dead! (Acts 20:7-12)
In Ephesians 4:29 we’re instructed to speak “…only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” So even though it’s a joy for me to speak, I need to keep in mind what’s best for those “who listen.”
If I do what comes naturally, I can talk non-stop. But not only can that be tiring for those listening, from an adult learning perspective it’s not the best for them learning either!
When you are meeting one on one with someone, you need to keep considering their perspective – how can they best benefit? Now this varies from person to person, and ultimately you want to learn what’s best for them, but a good starting point can be considering what is beneficial for you as you listen.
One thing I love about teaching kids – you have to do this or you’ll soon be talking to yourself! So I find myself seeking to be even more creative and concrete when communicating.
For example, I was recently teaching a group of missionary kids about the armor of God. When we went over the belt of truth I didn’t just talk about it ~ we literally made belts using links of chains and a carabiner.
Then I borrowed extra large adult jeans and had the kids spar with swords while wearing them – first with the belt on so it held up their pants, then without it. It was pretty humorous to see them discover how vital those belts can be, and how vulnerable they are without it, as pants dropped to their ankles!
Then we talked about how the most important truth you can ever know is the truth of who God is. Because when hard times come Satan wants you fixating on the circumstances and trying to figure out why rather than clinging to the truth of who God is.
Many times, this side of heaven, you won’t figure out why – so focusing on that can really throw you off balance and make you even more vulnerable to the enemy. But when we keep taking time to remember who God is – can that ever fortify our souls even in the darkest of trials. And that’s not just true for kids!
We are personally going through a tough time right now and first thing, I went and got some plastic links and a carabiner from Lowes. Every day as the Lord is revealing who He is, I write that new attribute on a link with a permanent black sharpie…
“Purposeful, Powerful, Active Refuge, Planner, Savior, Provider, Conqueror, Finisher…”
I know it may sound crazy, but even though I’m not wearing the belt (talk about a fashion statement, eh?!), making the effort to do something concrete like this is really helping me focus more during my quiet times on who God is and keep recalling this throughout the day. And I find I’m not forgetting these quiet times like I often do if I don’t do anything with them.
Creative, concrete illustrations can be very impactful, very beneficial in helping people learn, understand and remember what you’ve talked about – it’s easier to just “tell” but God doesn’t call us to do what’s easy, but what’s beneficial for those listening.
Remember how they use to have “Show and Tell” in kindergarden? That’s a great thing to strive for when discipling someone!