First things first. I’m a conversationalist. It’s a polite way of saying I like to talk. I can run down the path of a subject but expect rabbit trails. I am the poster guy for “Oh, look, there’s a squirrel” so to speak. I have taken issue with myself over interrupting conversations because I hear things in my spirit and I have to get it out immediately or it will be gone. All that coupled with a hearing problem and I can tell you the conversation can get interesting.
Then in stepped the Holy Spirit. I know my calling is that of an evangelist. To put it in other words my
calling is to be a Chaplain. When I was a young teen I knew this calling and I thought I was to preach loud and long snatching lost souls from the licking flames of hell. Then years passed and this whole scenario dissolved. Serving another ministry for some thirty years in many capacities, yet never being that calling stymied me. While studying under that ministry to become a minister I found that being an evangelist was a totally different calling than my perception taught me when I was young.
My granddad started out in ministry as a Baptist evangelist and over time became a pastor. He was my pattern. His method was all he knew, so he’s not at fault for anything. He was truly a great man of God in many people’s eyes.
Then came the ultimate clincher. I had been an ordained minister for about two years when God spoke about being a certified Chaplain. I was eager to take the class. So eager I spent money I didn’t have to find out the finer points of accreditation. And you know what I found out? The byline for a Chaplain is “the ministry of presence”. Don’t speak. Say nothing. Just be there. That’s not to say you don’t speak at all, but what God wanted me to hear was the fact that there is a time to listen, and then there’s a time to talk.
Notice the line of thought in the sentence above. Listen comes first. Then we talk. Many people pray and pray and then pray some more, but never stop to listen. Then they get up and say “Nice talking to you Lord” and walk away, but God never got a chance to get a word in.
The same thing goes for conversations with people. We are quick to get a snapshot of a person’s situation and we jump right in with an answer, right or wrong. Becoming a Chaplain I found the first thing out of my mouth to a person I encounter is to tell them who I am and that I’m here to help. Then I shut up. The first time I did this I told the person my name and title and they immediately sat down in what was left of their tornado-ravaged home and started balling and the flood gates of emotion burst out. God worked on her behalf during the conversation and when I prayed for her I prayed that He answer her immediate need. That need was someone to cut some huge trees in her yard of which one has fallen on her house. I left and found my place in our truck across from her house in a church parking lot waiting for the others to get back. Before we left a truck came up with a brand new backhoe on it and two guys had gone to her yard with chainsaws and were cutting on those trees. See how listening first makes a difference.
Then this morning I stopped in at my local Walmart across the street from my home to get something for my lunch and I walked up to get some fried chicken in the deli. There was standing by the way with his wife getting groceries in the produce area. The man was in camo shorts, a gray t-shirt, and a full-blown beard and shaved head. He turned and looked at me in my Patriot Guard Riders vest and do-rag and he started talking to me. I had ridden my Harley out to work so you get the picture.
When he started talking, my Chaplain’s training kicked in and I asked God what was this. God spoke right back and said, “It’s time to listen”. So, for twenty minutes or more I watched and listened to him testify of God’s power to save. He broke down in tears a few times and then talked some more. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to his words. They were encouraging to know the power of God was working in him. I also learned he is a Chaplain also in several prisons in the area. I found a brother and never spoke more than a few sentences. Just listening blessed him. Heck, it even blessed me.
The end-game to this post is for you to take the time to listen. What we have to say doesn’t mean spit to someone if we are not able to bless them in some way. Sometimes it is just a matter of listening. And if necessary we talk.