"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." -- James 1:19


Dear Church,

We have a Christmas challenge for you: The Christmas Listen.

Right now, with the national conversation on race and law enforcement, many of our family-and-friend circles are having some heated discussions.

We've overheard you talking in the cafe and seen your social media posts. So we know it's on your mind, too.

As human beings, we are often tempted to minimize others' anger and justify our own. But as Christians, we have a special opportunity to follow Jesus' example in this conversation with compassion and listening.

It costs nothing in terms of money; it may cost us something in the currency of patience and humility. Fair warning: It's not easy! :) But if you like our mission of "Honor God, Love Others, Serve All," this will be right up your alley.

So here goes...

1. Spend a moment in quiet prayer. Tune in to God's signal. Ask Him to make His love especially alive in you at this moment by making you "quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to get angry." Ask him to use this challenge to teach you and open your eyes to some new truth.

2. Seek out someone whose point of view you disagree with or do not understand. This may be a person of a different race or political persuasion. Ask them to tell you their thoughts and feelings about this national conversation. Tell them you just want to listen and understand where they're coming from.

3. Here's the hard part: JUST listen and try to understand. You might even imagine that God is seeking to teach you something and this person is the messenger. Do not argue with them or try to convince them of your point of view. If what they're saying doesn't make sense to you, ask questions--but ask them gently and humbly, in the spirit of trying to understand where THEY'RE coming from.

You may find yourself getting angry or uncomfortable, wanting to argue--or to walk away without really hearing them! Silently ask God to help you put your own emotions aside and experience theirs instead--to feel their grief and frustration instead of your own.

4. Thank them. They have honored you with a truthful answer.

5. Reflect and pray. How difficult was it? Any surprises? Pray for this person throughout the week. Pray for peace.

Here's to Christmas surprises,
The True North Staff