Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Learning to be Slow to Speak

James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak . . .

I went to get my haircut the other day. As I sat down in the chair the lady asked me the typical introductory questions about how I was doing and what I going to do for the weekend. Before I could give an answer she proceeded to tell me everything she was doing for the weekend and all the things going on in her life. I’m pretty sure she did not take a breath for at least 15 minutes! Somewhere during her babbling, I realize she wasn’t actually interested in hearing anything I had to say. She just asked me those questions as a springboard for her to talk. And talk she did.

After I paid my bill and left, the experience did make me wonder if that is the way I am towards others. When they come to my office with a problem, do I spend too much time talking and not enough time listening? When people come to me with their problems, do I really hear what they are saying or am I too busy thinking of what I want to say when it is my turn to talk? Many of us struggle with this in our lives. We speak more than we listen. And it is not very helpful to those who really need to share their burdens with us.

The next time we ask someone how they are doing or what their week has been like, perhaps we should actually listen to what they say. Perhaps we should try hard to engage them in a real conversation about their needs instead of trying to turn the conversation to something about us. We may be amazed at the difference being slow to speak makes in our relationships. 

Lord, help us be a listening ear to those who need a friend. Amen.
  
------------------

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Personality Types Impact Ministry

1 Corinthians 12:4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.

Imagine my surprise when I took a personality test and learned that only 4% of the population in the United States share my personality. My wife on the other hand, discovered she has the most common personality type in the nation. All these years I thought I was the "normal" one and she was the "weird" one. What a shock to learn I had it backwards. Of course, my wife was not at all surprised. She always knew I was the nut in the family! Though we often joke about our personality differences, the reality is that we are indeed two different people. The way God designed our personalities impacts how we view the world around us and how we relate to other people, situations and stimuli in our daily life experiences.

Our personalities impact us far more than we may realize. This is not only true in marriage, but it is also true in ministry. Some people are uniquely designed to be leaders of mega-churches. Others are uniquely designed to be Christian counselors. Some are uniquely designed to lead worship. There is no question in my mind that God has uniquely designed me to lead a denominational agency that is making a difference across New England. When we can discover how God has wired us, and then can function in that knowledge, it can make a real difference in our lives. When we try to be something that we are not, in only leads to frustration and confusion. And often it also leads to failure.

It is very tempting to look at others and try to imitate them. But that normally leads us to an emotional dead end. Even if we can fake it for a while, we know deep inside that it is just not who we are. At some point we burn out because we are not functioning in a way that God designed us. But when we can stop trying to be someone else, and rejoice in how God made us, and use that unique design to serve God faithfully, then we are energized and excited in whatever path that takes us. We must realize that no particular personality is "better" than another. Likewise, no specific ministry is more important than another. It takes all personality types, and all types of ministry, to make everything work out in a healthy and balanced way. So stop pretending to be someone else and rejoice in how God made you and serve in a way that is fulfilling and meaningful without comparing yourself to someone with a different personality. Be the best YOU that you can be knowing that the Spirit of God likes how He designed you.

Lord, help us to know ourselves and serve in ways that You designed us for. Amen.

----------------

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:







Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Factual Truth

Proverbs 24:6 …. in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom.

I listened attentively to an acquaintance give a passionate speech on how he viewed a particular issue. While I agreed with his viewpoint, I grimaced as he provided his “proof” that his viewpoint was correct. He quoted several statistics that were very outdated. He gave numerous examples that have been proven by several different well known sources to be false. Though he spoke with great passion and incredible conviction, the factual inaccuracies of his speech took away all of his persuasive power. Finally, someone in the audience (who to the best of my knowledge also agreed with the speaker’s perspective) pointed out that his facts were out of date and that his examples were proven to be false. The audience member suggested the speaker update his presentation and then give it again at a later date. Instead of agreeing to look for new information to bolster his claims, the speaker doubled down on his presentation and said that that’s just the way he viewed the situation and he was sure that was how “everyone else who mattered” viewed it too. I left frustrated with my friend. I felt like he was wasting his passion and energy promoting the right idea in the wrong way. Clearly he would be much more persuasive if he listened to the advice of his audience and updated his facts and used accurate examples. But in his mind, since that was his viewpoint, then he was entitled to it and everyone else should just accept it. I doubt many people in the audience agreed with his conclusion.

Far too many of us are like my friend. We tend to have already decided what we believe before we do the research. We come up with our tweetable one liners and our quippy Facebook statuses and let them fly before we even hear what the facts are on any particular subject. And sometimes we keep using data that we know is outdated or incorrect just because it supports our perspective. This makes no sense to me. If something is the truth, then it will stand the test of facts, figures, illustrations and research. And if something is not true, I don’t want to be promoting it, even if it might bolster my opinion.

When we enter into a discussion with our minds made up before listening to anyone else’s thoughts or ideas, we court disaster. The Bible reminds us that in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom. That does not mean that we need a committee to vote on what is true. But it does mean that we might need other people to help us think through how that truth applies to our lives. No one person understands any single issue completely. We need each other to help us sort out the complex issues we face as a culture. That means we must listen with an open mind. It also means we have to use accurate facts and examples. We can’t make stuff up just to prove our point. We need honest open discussion and the hard work that goes along with that. But when we are willing to engage in that kind of hard work, the Holy Spirit can use our words to persuade many people to the cause of Christ.

Lord, help us to listen before we speak. When we do speak, help us be accurate in what we say, as well as persuasive in how we say it. Amen.

--------------- 

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at: