My “Three Cents”

clydesdales
clydesdales
Several weeks ago I had the privilege to be in Skandia, Michigan with a wonderful Pastor and church. Early Saturday morning, I drove to meet a layman in that church who has Clydesdale horses. This breed of horse is beautiful and magnificent. Two of them were hitched to a sleigh, and off we went into the dense forest for a cold morning ride. As the owner handed me the reigns to the dual-hitched horses, I literally felt the horsepower. I learned quickly how to navigate but was amazed at how one little “bit” in the mouth of those animals could guide us on the narrow, twisted path. I could not help but reflect on what James said in chapter 3, verse 3, “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.”

Think of these enormous horses, over seven feet high, capable of dragging a very heavy sleigh carrying several people hour after hour. Yet they are guided by one little bit, only six inches long, properly fitted in its mouth. A tug to the left and it turns left. A pull to the right and to the right it turns. It’s not that its mouth turns, or its head only, but the whole great steed changes direction. The Bible says our tongue has this same kind of power.

Words have enormous influence. I am reminded of how important it is for us to teach our children throughout the child rearing process to bridle their tongue. If they cannot do that, you will surely have problems with other body parts later! Solomon had much to say in the wonderful book of Proverbs, but no weightier words than those concerning the tongue. May those of us rearing children once again see and teach the importance of “yes, ma’am” and “yes, sir.” Words are often spoken without any thought of the resulting damage. James 3:6, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” The entire course of a man or woman’s life can be viewed by the direction of the tongue.

A common mistake is when one in authority will engage in a shouting match with those they wish to lead, or demand silence so they can use their tongue to set the course straight for the individual. After much failure, I think we as leaders have learned our need to put down the bullhorn and learn to communicate properly. I think of those, who have had a lasting impact on my life, as they learned to “reason together with me.” After all, God gave us that example when He said “Come let us reason together saith the Lord”. (Isaiah 1:18.) This word reason is a court setting where both sides lay out their reasoning. Often, leaders are afraid for others to talk because of what they might say. I have seen small groups run effectively when the leader is willing to let others speak. It is only then that we find out what is really going on in the heart. Matthew 12:34, “…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”

Steve Curington, the founder of Reformers Unanimous Recovery Ministries, told me the history of how he started the Talk, Talk, Talk format that we use weekly in our program. He stated how on one particular Friday evening he walked into the rescue mission and announced the free ride, class, and refreshments available to the first 13 passengers on the van. Steve was wearing a ball cap and walked by a man talking to a friend and heard him say, “I went to that program once and I will never go again. All you do there is listen to the same red-headed man talk for 2 ½ hours.” Those words stunned Steve as he continued to walk. That next week, he and his wife went to the Wisconsin Dells for a short break. There in a wooded ravine, Steve thought about what that man had said, and began to ask God for clear direction. He saw the trees in that gully. Some of them were on the forest floor. Others were tall and straight. Some leaned on others. It was then that he thought: if trees could talk, they would all have a story to tell. He knew if we were going to help people in our recovery program, we needed to allow them to talk.

Listen to your students. Listen to your husband or wife. Listen to your kids. Listen to how they talk and what they say, so we will gain the opportunity to reason with them out of the Scriptures. Can we please put down the bullhorn and stop bullying people into a decision? Can we please put down the bullhorn and stop thinking we are so “right” that everyone else is “left”? Can we please put down the bullhorn and stop forming our opinions and listen to their heart cry for help?

Today, stop and take time to listen. Ask someone important to you how they are doing and listen to them without trying to figure out what you are going to say next. Listening is a verbal or nonverbal response (or both) to someone else’s message.

It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener. Old habits are hard to break and if your listening habits are as bad as society’s, then there is a lot of habit-breaking to do! Be deliberate with your listening and remind yourself frequently that your goal is to truly hear what the other person is saying. Set aside all other thoughts and behaviors in order to concentrate on the message.

Ask questions, reflect, and paraphrase to ensure you understand the message. If you don’t, then you’ll find that what someone says to you and what you hear can be amazingly different!

Sharing is Caring

God led Ben and his family (wife, Wendy; and three children, Josh, Caleb, and Hannah) to Rockford, Illinois in 2003 to become the International Director of the fastest growing addiction ministry in the United States. Bro. Burks is now privileged to travel and train others how to help the addicted within their communities.

4 thoughts on “My “Three Cents”

  1. Bro Ben – this is great!! I found myself this past Sunday at a halfway house with 7 or 8 men and was trying to do all the talking. When God finally said Hush, they had a lot to say and most of it was not going along with what I had tried to teach. Showed me right quick that I had better be listening to them more. The whole afternoon did not go right, but I think I was not in tune with what was needful. Will try to do better next time.

    from ohio

  2. Bro. Burks I just wanted to tell you that all of your emails have been so helpful in the growing of our chapter at Bethany Baptist Church Thank you and may God continue to bless rui and all the local chapters.

    MI

  3. Virginia wrote:
    “I pray for all the staff and all of you ladies in the Ladies R.U. home. I pray that each person stops daily to ask God about what to do with each situation that bothers you when you feel your not in the spirit but are acting in the flesh, I know ladies that it takes the Lord daily to keep us avoiding evil, remember, Satan tries to make bad things ,look good,so keep your full armour of God on an He is able to protect and direct your paths, I love the Lord, he gives me strength when I daily call upon HIM, Oh how I love to hear you ladies sing, I cry tears of joy to see and hear you, and what a blessing it is to our Savior!!!!!!!!!!”

  4. I had an example yesterday of how words make a difference. I took my six-year-old granddaughter into the secondhand store and told her she could go shopping but couldn’t spend more than two dollars. She had a corner in her hand and picked up a little wooden dust catcher shaped like a rabbit. She carried it up to the woman and said “excuse me ma’am.. Could you please tell me how much this is?” the clerk smiled.

    She saw the quarter in her hand, and said “for you a nickel.” This left her with $.20 more to spend. She shopped around and found some other small items each time asking ma’am if you could please tell her the price, and each time the item cost a nickel. She came home with a bag containing a doll, an Easter egg with a bunny inside, a mask with a rabbit face, tiny woven baskets, three dust catchers,and a charm… all for the two dollars that I promised her.

    Had she simply come in waving her quarter and plunked it on the counter beside the item, I’m sure that would’ve been the price. Because she chose to show respect and use the word please and thank you, she received far more than she would have otherwise. She wished the woman a nice day and left with her smiling. The woman invited her to come back and shop again, which rarely happens to six-year-olds. Words do carry a lot more power than most of us realize. We can be the bright spot in someone’s day,or the blight that kills the tomato.

    Have a great day, if you want to.

    jo

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