Soul Training Exercise.
Let’s determine to become a gospel declaring community of Jesus followers. In order for that to become a reality we have to take the first step of learning to being present with others. This week let’s spend time asking God to lead each of us to someone who needs us to climb down into the hole with them and be present with them in their situation. Pay attention throughout your day for God to respond to this prayer. Ask him to make you aware of these opportunities. When you do find that person you will have to be very intentional to be present with them in this way because it is new to many of us. Some things that will help are:
● Slow down and make sure you have margins in your life. That amounts to making sure you have the time to be present with others. Time is important and if your schedule is jammed full from beginning to end, being present with others becomes impossible. What can you eliminate from your day to create more margins?
● Ask questions. Even the overused question of “How are you doing?” can lead to an opportunity to be present with others. We have to resist the temptation to make our story being heard more important than hearing theirs.
● Listen actively. When we are attentive to another person we listen to more than just what they say. We learn to listen to how they say it as well as what they don’t say. When we hear someone say “I’m fine” but their face and everything else says they aren’t fine, it’s a great opportunity to be present with them by saying something like “Are you sure? It looks like something is on your mind. “Also pay attention to strong words like “afraid”, “mad”, “alone”, “lost” etc.… You can follow up on words like this with a simple statement like, “You said you were afraid a couple times just now. Can you tell me more about that?”
● Give voice to what you experience and what you see. “This feels like a really heavy load you are carrying” or “You sound like you are really upset about what happened” or “It looks like all this is having a pretty big impact”.