Recently I was sitting in a meeting, working hard not to squirm in my seat. The views being expressed felt harsh and personal. The words pouring out of a new friend’s mouth seemed like an attack, and I wanted to defend. To explain. To argue.
But I didn’t do any of those things, because I’m working hard to live out our lessons about listening Those lessons include:
- Only Scripture is true. Human opinions are just opinions.
- To gain the rewards of listening, we have to lose our “one right way” of thinking.
- Elevating our own opinions to truth shuts down dialogue. Listening with the fruits of the Spirit builds dialogue.
- Listening = Love.
Instead of attacking, defending, explaining, or arguing, I listened without speaking. I didn’t agree with every word my friend spoke, but I learned some new things. I absorbed an experience different than my own. I built the relationship in a way that will allow me to speak my perspective at the right time.
Putting myself in positions where I feel the pinch of unease isn’t easy, but it’s good. The echo chamber that I lived in for years wasn’t helpful at all. It kept me comfortable but unchanged.
What’s an echo chamber?
We’ve created an echo chamber when we surround ourselves with voices who echo back our own ideas, thoughts, values, experiences and perspectives.
As humans, we’re all looking for those who are like us and a place to belong. The way we most often do that is to form an echo chamber which is a natural default but not the best way to learn and grow. We create echo chambers all the time by choosing TV news that supports what we already think, by following people on social media that post what what we already agree with, and by choosing friends who look how we look and live how we live.
There’s a comfort level to all that sameness, but it keeps us from understanding another’s perspective. It keeps us from learning and growing. It even keeps us from being solution-bearers since we never expose ourselves to two sides of a problem.
So I’ve been working to bust up my echo chamber.
How do you bust up an echo chamber?
The only way to bust up our echo chambers is to be intentional. We have to seek out voices and perspectives different from our own, make friends with those who move outside our natural communities, and listen when we’d rather argue.
Because God has been putting racial reconciliation on my heart, I’ve taken steps to specifically listen and learn about that issue. Here are some of the steps I’ve taken to bust up my echo chamber:
- I’ve started following women of color in social media. A few of my favorites are Chrystal Evans Hurst, Jackie Hill Perry and Arielle Estoria.
- I joined a Bible study in a church that’s historically a black church. Not only do a receive great teaching every week, but I’m making new friends who have voices that I care about.
- I’m listening to podcasts with perspectives that challenge my own. Two of my favorites are The TED Radio Hour and Lavar Burton Reads. (The second I love, love, love. There’s no better way to step into someone else shoes than by listening to a story.)
- I’ve attended a conference that included both black and white leaders. So powerful to hear many perspectives!
What is God moving your heart to learn about? What issue do you feel led to eventually speak into? Find and follow people who speak into all sides of that issue.
How do you cling to the Truth in the process?
Although I’m asking you to join me in listening to voices out there that don’t echo your own, I’m NOT asking you to embrace all those voices say. That’s not at all the point of busting up your echo chamber.
Instead, at the end of this series on listening, I return to the beginning. Here’s the sub-set process within our listening:
Listen to God (first and always first) –> Listen to others –> Listen to God (last and always last)
All that we hear must be compared with Scripture, the only reliable Truth. We must be like the people that Luke commended in the book of Acts, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11)
Let’s read like Bereans, listen like Bereans, and learn like Bereans. That doesn’t mean that we only consider what’s true, but it does mean that we only absorb what’s True according to Scripture.
With the rest of the information, we learn how to develop a strong voice that’s under-girded by a tender heart. When it’s time, we’re ready to speak.
Please share what you’ve learned in this series about listening. What’s the issue God is putting on your heart? Who do you recommend that I follow as I bust up my echo chamber?
This is the last week in the “Listen” series, but hang tight with me! Next week I have an exciting announcement, and then we’ll roll on in our process to: