Remember that minister who wouldn’t stop? His sermon seemed never-ending. And phrases like “and finally” or “in closing” were only segway to more & more & more?
I’ve sat in those services & thoughts, “Please, Minister, look around you! See the blank looks on everyone’s faces? You’ve lost us. PLEASE stop!” But those kinda speakers never seemed to notice the body language.
Well, Tuesday I started reading a book to my little boys that was definitely for older children. But we tried it anyway. The boys sat for a couple minutes. Then the laid down on the couch. Reached for toys… or anything nearby.
So I asked a few questions & got them more involved. But within seconds they were hangin off the couch again just looking blankly at the wall.
I stopped reading.
“MOM! What are you doing? Keep going! Please!?”
“But you weren’t listening. We’ll read more tomorrow.”
“No, Please, I wanna know what happens next.”
So I read. Quite a lot, actually. And when I finally stopped my oldest boy (only 6 yrs. old) asked if he could please draw a picture of the story. And he did. With great detail. He took delight in making giant background scenes & specific characteristics of each person mentioned in the story.
He was listening! And each morning since then he’s asked me to continue reading the book that is several grade levels above his current grade. I learned something from this.
It’s NOT that preachers/speakers should ignore body language! I simply realized again that we cannot judge a situation by sight only. We can’t sum up people by first glance & then assume we know what’s happening inside of them. (I hate to admit it, but those of us in ministry do this sometimes.)
How to avoid this icky mistake? Talk. LISTEN. Ask questions. Spend time together. Serve together. Be interested in them, genuinely. Their “blank-look” isn’t blank (unless, of course, the sermon is lasting for an hour). Something’s going on… and what a joy it is to find out what it is & be a part of their lives in some way.
Can you think of a time when you’ve assumed you knew what was going on in someone’s life & why, and then treat them according to your deduction?