The Anglican Communion has recently gathered the bishops from around the globe in a conference called Lambeth.
The early history of Lambeth was to be an opportunity to gather Anglican Community together to listen, and in listening, to be strengthened in our commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
For myself, my greatest disappointment with Lambeth is how it has moved from a listening forum to a legislative forum. The problem with a legislative forum is the idea, that 'some are right, and others are wrong.'
This results in division.
Jesus never intended ‘The Way’ to be political.
In the secular world, we all believe the characteristic of 'good leader' is ‘the one who has all the right solutions, knows all the answers, and one who can exercise power and authority.’
This belief misses the real ideal of a leader: the person whose best attribute is his or her ability to listen.
In the corporate world, leaders listen to their customers.
In politics, leaders listen to their constituents.
In education, teachers need to listen to their students.
In the church, leaders need to listen to the people in the pews.
In the broader sense of leadership, we all need to listen to each other.
When we fail to listen and believe we have all the correct answers, we fail.
Too often, we fail to listen to the one(s) near to us. Too often, we go off to other parts of the world, or spend time listening or reading 'theories from afar'. This is not to say: ‘scholars’ are without sound advice or knowledge.
The question we must first ask is ‘why we wish to listen, or to read, a certain theory.’ Is it because of 'my personal interest', or because I think, ‘I know the needs of the people I am serving?’
Or have I truly been listening to the people, and this is looking to answers for their questions or interest.
This bring us back to the art of being a good listener.
To listen well, one must listen well by paying careful attention.
We live in a world which makes it difficult for us to listen. We live in a world where there is a greater value put on being able to multi-task rather than to do one task efficiently. (A question often asked in a job interview: are you able to ‘multi-task’?)
Our preoccupation with electronic communications makes listening difficult. (Even when we request people shut off their ED’s before a gathering, there is always at least one in the group who is not prepared to listen. That person is placing their attention on the device rather than on the speaker.)
We may have the greatest vision, the best plans. Then, in implementation, the plan falls short of our expectations. Why? Often, because we had not listened to the people first.
When we listen well, we are often surprised by our learning.
My prayer for Lambeth is for our bishops to have listened well to one another; to know, and acknowledge, the Holy Spirit is alive and present in their sisters and brothers in Christ.
My prayer for my personal life is to spend more time truly listening, rather than solving the situation mid-conversation.
Blessings to all,