This year, Abilene Christian University’s Summit attendees are invited to join the staff and faculty of ACU in reading a book selected by the Summit team to prepare for the event. The team chose Alan Jacobs’ How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds. Jacobs wrote the book as he struggled to connect the people he loved with the beliefs he held. On every side of the political spectrum, in religion and in academia, people are torn apart by the beliefs that identify them. Jacobs believes that these differences divide us because we do not approach each other correctly.
Jacobs describes positive modes of thought that allow us to communicate effectively and love each other through our differences. Key themes include the dangers of thinking against others, the need to find the best people to think with, the error of believing that we can think for ourselves, the conflict between thinking and belonging and the dangers of words that do our thinking for us.
Jacobs is a distinguished professor of humanities in the Honors Program of Baylor University, and taught for many years at Wheaton College in Illinois. He has written five other books and frequently writes for different magazines.
Jacobs will speak on campus several times in September and will present at Summit at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 17, in Cullen Auditorium. Don’t miss this opportunity to find new ways to think together at Summit 2018: Wholeness in a Broken World.
Summit, a Conversation Where Life and Faith Converge in Christ, is an annual three day conference hosted by Abilene Christian University and the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry. In 2018, Summit marks it’s 112th year. Make plans today to join us in this annual time of renewal and restoration.
Another Father’s Day is upon us and I can’t help but think of my dad and his rebellious lifestyle:
- As a popular high-school football player he decided to spend his life telling others about Jesus.
- As a young preacher he switched pulpits with one of his close friends, a young, African American preacher. In the early 1970s not many churches were doing that. I’ll never forget dad taking me to this congregation and finding a sweet, older lady for me to sit beside while he preached. I loved the joy and excitement that came from those faithful Christians. Dad taught me that it didn’t matter what color someone’s skin was. We were all family.
- When faced with the news of having a terminal illness as a young twenty something, dad continued to preach the hope of Jesus even when he could no longer speak. He turned his diagnosis into a way to bless others.
I hope you had a rebellious father. One who looked at his world and refused to let the darkness win. One who knew Jesus and wasn’t afraid to practice what he preached.
I hope you are a rebellious father. I hope you will continue to love God and love others even in a world that doesn’t. I hope you ask God to stand guard over your mouth, your eyes, and your actions. I hope you tell your children in words and deeds that nothing matters more than following the Christ and encouraging his church. I hope you fiercefully love your wife and children and fight for them. And if you need to, I hope you will forgive your own dad for his faults.
Here’s to all the rebellious dads! Happy Father’s Day!
Listening is a discipline. It isn’t a skill that comes naturally to many of us. Talking is much easier and often much less thoughtful.
Listening is a discipline. Listening takes security. It is difficult for an insecure person to be a good listener because an insecure person is always testing the waters of how others see them and this isn’t easy to gauge as a listener as much as it is a talker.
Listening is a discipline. It requires taking a genuine interest in others and that doesn’t come easily for many of us.
What makes someone a good interviewer? Is it curiosity? Is it that they have a genuine interest in the person they are talking to. A good interviewer has to be interested in the person they are talking with because they have to say just enough of the right things or ask just enough of the right questions to spark the interviewee to say things the audience really wants to know and then get out of the way and listen. They have to listen well enough to what is being said live to integrate into where they think they want the interview to go to make sure they are hearing the person accurately enough to continue to get to the good stuff and not miss something important. They aren’t stuck to their script because they are a good listener.
Good interviewers have to be good listeners. It is a discipline and that is why good interviewers are few and far between because not many of us are: 1) interested enough in other people or 2) good enough at asking the right questions.
I suggest you begin disciplining your mouth and your ears. Begin asking more questions and making less statements. Take time to consider what is being said and try to understand it. If you are an insecure person, the counterintuitive truth is this, the more you learn to listen the more secure you will feel because you will not constantly feel the pressure to prove yourself because you will be so wrapped up in other people that you will forget about yourself for a change.
The world needs more listeners and less talkers. The world needs more people concerned about others more than themselves. The world needs more people who take a genuine interest in others over themselves. So discipline yourself to be a good listener and watch it transform not just yourself but also the people around you. Enjoy the small things you never noticed before because you were too busy filling the airwaves with noise and distraction. You will find the world of listening is wide and open and expansive and liberating. So come on in and bask in it! You will never be the same again.
James makes a connection in James 1:19 that I have not only missed in the text but failed to notice in my own life. Here is what James wrote,
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.“
It makes sense that James would connect listening and speaking. But he also connects listening with becoming angry. Why does James link listening and anger. Those who are quick to listen are people who have humility. Those who struggle to listen are also likely to struggle with being angry.
I think entitlement also has something to do with it. If I expect you to listen to me but me not listen to you that is entitlement. It also lacks humility. Good listeners aren’t entitled people but often, at least for myself, I realize that anger comes out of entitlement. I am angry because I didn’t get my needs met or what I expected to happen didn’t – entitlement. Those who believe everyone should listen to them and not be good listeners themselves are entitled people. They are not humble people. Good listeners don’t tend to be angry people because they believe other people have a seat at the table and their power doesn’t feel challenged if they listen to someone other than themselves. That is because humble people aren’t interested in who has the power.
I would encourage you to try to become a better listener. You can start with James’ own word – be quick. Always look for an opportunity to listen. Don’t feel the pressure to interject yourself or your opinion. Ask people for clarification and more information. When we begin seeking people to listen to rather than seek people to tell things to, we will start to see real progress. And I bet the byproduct you will begin to find in your life on a positive side is the growth of humility and a smaller and smaller propensity to be angry.