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Jesus is the most inclusive guy you’ve ever met

  Photo by AllGo - An App For Plus Size People on Unsplash "'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me' (John 14:6 NIV). At first glance, this seems overly exclusive. Jesus is the only way? But on further inspection, we find that Jesus' offer is quite unique from other religions and, in fact, incredibly inclusive." --Louie Giglio Jesus of Nazareth was from a small town, likely learned his father's trade as a carpinter, and lived in relative obscurity until about age 30.  His public ministry lasted about 3 years.  That's about 1000 days, and in that short time, he inspired about 120 folks to become committed followers. Within about 6 months of his death and burial and resurrection, his followers' numbers swelled to well over 3000 committed followers.  In about two generations the mediterrean cities had certainly heard of the Christ, and within a decade his followers earned a new name, "Christiani",

How to Promote More Peace

Advent Reflections on Bible.com and Youversion App
I really enjoy the YouVersion App from Bible.com combined with content from BibleProject.com is a very engaging way to understand and enjoy reading the bible.  I highly recommend it in our roles as parents, as selves, and as followers.

There is a feature that allows you to engage in a bible study called a "plan" with others. A couple of times a year, my sons and my wife and I all do a Bible study plan together. Today's study challenged my family and I to think of five habits, words, or actions to please God and promote shalom

I thought that my list might inspire you to make a list or steal some ideas in your many roles.

I decided I need to:

letter tiles arranged to say "listen more"
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
1. Listen more often and longer:  There is no good reason to be quick to speak.  Rather, there are many reasons to listen.  Just nod, smile, show you care and listen.  It is simple, a great skill to grow in, and it is ultimately respectful.  As a man in many roles, I need listening in all my roles, and I think you might need more listening in your character too.  We all need to grow in all our roles as listeners.  There are so many distractions from this critical skill.  I'd like to nudge you to think about your roles by reflecting briefly on each of mine.

As a self  I need to listen to my own thoughts, whether I as them out loud or not.  I need to be still and listen to wind in trees, breeze in the morning, and my feet crunching snow, no earbuds, on winter walks.  

As a son, my mother, father, my mentors, and my Father God have a lot to say both in their words and writings (and in the things they don't say) to me. If I write down notes from lunch with my dad, times with mentors or moments of prayer or scripture, I will grow and honor those who pour wisdom into me.  Let's not waste our times with parents, grandparents, mentors and sages.

As a brother, I have two siblings out of state.  No harm can come from calling and just asking questions and listening.  No advice, just listening.  Every offering of listening is an inexpensive gift of time, attention and heart. My friends and fellow members of my spiritual community also need this kind of listening.  It is a welcome break from screen time, and gift that is becoming more and more rare in a smartphone world. I need to keep trying to have an actual phone call, even if we are all busy, even if the kids interrupt or it's just a few minutes a few times a month.

As a lover/husband, I must listen.  I am a space cadet... I forget things a lot.  I need to grow in this skill of listening.  I take notes.  My wife texts me the honey do list, but I must grow this skill.  This brings more shalom into my home when I do.  Listening in arguments is critical.  Talking is not first priority. Listening and turn taking is.  And I still, after 18 years need to practice.

As a dad, listening is often a challenge when I'm upset at what happened.  I interrupt, but I should listen.  I should check myself so that I don't answer in my mind.  When offering correction, I need to make the rules of engagement clear.  One talking at a time, and that goes for me, too!  If I ask a question, it can't be a set up for correction. That's exasperating for our children.  If I ask a question in the heat of the moment, it has to be a true clarifying question.  I can grow at this with effort and prayer.  You can too.  If my son needs to explain why something bad happened, I need to let it play out and breathe as he does so.  

As a leader, listening and clarifying cannot be overstated.  Leaders who listen get more done more quickly, and if they do this consistently, trust skyrockets.  Again, listening is a heart level action.  Listening is the sweet spot right between thinking, feeling and action.  It is life!  If we are to bring out the best in our families, our lives, our organizations, we must listen well.  Undistracted.  Leaders cannot fake listening.  It is not a fixed talent, it is a muscle.  Those we lead professionally and in relationships are dying for use to learn to listen better.

As a follower, I listen to my leaders.  My mentors, my boss, my clients/customers... they all expect me to focus and listen.  We all win, both the followers and the leaders, when we listen intently with increasing skill.  I need to show I'm listening by saying it back to those who are trying to lead or help me.  When I restate/summarize what I heard, I am internalizing a habit that makes me a great follower.  In addition, I submit to (follow) my wife's needs.  That requires listening.  She does that for me too. I try to listen well to my sons and serve (follow) their needs.  The world and my family need me to follow better, not just lead.  Finally, as a man of God, I need to follow Jesus' example and create solitary moments in which to listen, trying to follow.  I need to act in a way that shows I am following someone greater than me.

dog laying on floor as if apologizing
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

2. I should say, “I want to apologize, will you help me see where I went wrong with you or made it harder?” more. Apologizing well is a very high form of respect as well, communicating humility and a willingness to go beyond a tense, silent peace.  Apologies are essentially moves toward working better together, and again the implications in all our roles are manifold.  

3. I should pray for shalom—not just peace but reconciliation in my extended family and relationships at home and work.  This Hebrew concept of shalom is beautiful, and I want to be a part of bringing more of it but it takes more than I can do consistently.  I need God to make up the difference.  I can't do it all, but I can pray and do my best consistently.

4. I feel like I should not be on a screen in my room, I should talk to my lovely wife more and I should fall asleep earlier. This will be a hard habit to build but I’d like to try. I just need to end my days better.  I want to cultivate more mindfulness and calm, even if a show or some comedy seems appealing.

5. I want to talk to others who are seeking God more and get Into Bible studies via zoom or Google meet. I think my blog and podcast can create some opportunities for that.  If you enjoy the content of this blog, or the podcast, please comment on this blog, direct message me on Twitter or email me if you are interested in a personal bible study and I'll jump into a Google Meet with you.  We can talk for a few minutes and customize a bible study for you, and try to hook you up with some Christians in your area. Don't let isolation or pandemics or situations dictate your reaching out for a bit of support.  I've been a disciple of Jesus for a long time and would love to offer you some of my faith, understanding, and friendship...just get to know you bit as we chat about the bible.  I'm curious how many folks will take this offer!

New content every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday right here at manyroles.com or the podcast.  Follow me @maninmanyroles on Twitter, and/or subscribe via email using the button at the top of this page.