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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Quiet Time: Church Politics 101.2: Feel Their Pain

Church Politics 101.2: Feel Their Pain
Read: Romans 12:15-16

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. – Romans 12:15

I feel your pain.

Remember when ACT UP representative Rob Rafsky confronted then candidate Bill Clinton back in 1992. No, I’m sure you don’t. But, I know you remember Clinton’s response. Here’s what happened. Clinton was out stumping for the presidency at a New York City fundraiser. Rob stood up and (quoting from Vito Russo) said, "We're not dying of AIDS as much as we are dying of 11 years of government neglect." That’s when candidate Clinton gave the now famous/infamous line, “I feel your pain.” Immediately, that four word line went viral with every late night talk show host and political pundit putting their irreverent spin on it. I think that Clinton had the right idea, though, even if it did ring hollow; we do need to try and feel one another’s pain.

We see the early church being encouraged to be empathizers, as well as, really good listeners. Empathizers, by being happy when good things happened to other church members and by actually shedding tears with the broken hearted when sad things take place (Job 30:25; Hebrews 13:3).

Christians should be really good listeners too. A good listener gets into the head of the person speaking and tries to actually see things through their eyes (Romans 12:16; Philippians 2:2; 1 Peter 3:8). We’ve all heard the truism: “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care,” or the other that says, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Well, makes sense, but it seems to me that this is something many of us need to work on.

A THING TO DO: The next time someone begins to share something with us, we can make a point to stop whatever we’re doing, make eye contact, and really listen without comment. Then, after they’re done talking, see if we can reflect what we hear them say back to them. (This clears up any accidental misunderstandings too) Finally, if we see pain or joy in their eyes we can reflect that too (I think this’ll be the hard part; at least it usually is for me).

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