Sunday, July 12, 2009

Exercising my listening ears..

It was sunny and clear this morning when I pulled out of Nashville. The drive along I40, through Knoxville and on into North Carolina, made for a beautiful ride.

The United Methodist Men's conference I attended was excellent. Around 130 guys showed up for my workshop and - most importantly, I had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with several men during the breaks, and God graciously used me to be an encouragement in their various journeys.

Yesterday evening, country artist Vince Gill was on hand to lend support to a UMM mentoring initiative. He stayed around to give an informal concert and I was blown away by both his songwriting and his guitar-work. (forgive the poor cell-phone image, but it was all I had with me!) It was a treat to see a superstar on a stool with his guitar and no band to overwhelm the purity of his gift. Good stuff.

I've been thinking today about how important it is to be available to other people, to enter into conversations about the road they're on, and to listen carefully. I may have been invited to Nashville to talk, but some of the best work I did this weekend was only possible in response to active listening.

So many people have powerful stories to share. I love capturing stories and using them in my newspaper column - but that's only the tip of the iceberg. I'm grateful for the willingness of people to open up... but I also suspect it's too rare an experience for many of us. So let's put our listening ears on, ask good questions, and make sure than the people we love don't have to take this next leg of their journey alone.

Believe me, it's a lot better than what they're showing on TV.


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