We see the world through a limited lens. We only know what we know. And if we always look at things from the same viewpoint, what we know and understand probably has no chance of changing.
In today’s western culture, individuals have more ways of expressing their worldview than in any other time in history. I get to do that every day with my blog, podcast, and social media posts. I guess that’s all a good thing, but I wonder if we have lost our ability, or maybe it’s patience, to listen.
In case you didn’t already know these things about me, here are some facts that shape the way I see the world:
- I was born in 1961 putting me in the baby boomer generation. I grew up seeing news reports about Vietnam, civil rights marches, and women burning their bras.
- The first few years of my life our family moved a few times mainly because my father served in the Navy, then took a job in Maryland. However, I have lived in Texas since about age eight.
- I am white, a Christian, and hold to conservative political beliefs.
- I am a home and property owner.
- I have traveled to many places around the world including, Central and South America, Canada, throughout Europe and East Asia, even living in Thailand for six months.
- My job experience includes corporate jobs, ministry related jobs, and self-employment.
- I volunteer with non profit organizations.
- My wife and I adopted our son through foster care.
If that list is all you know about me, I guarantee that you have already made conclusions about who I am and what I think about the world around me. Some of those conclusions might even cause you to not want to know me better.
We all do this. We make conclusions about a person based on very limited understanding of who they are, sometimes simply by how they look even though as a child we are taught to not judge a book by its cover.
So what is the one thing that is necessary to live a life on mission?
(Defintion of “life on mission” or “missional lifestyle” – God chose to use people as His ambassadors of reconciliation. God sends us to share His Good News about the salvation He offers. That is the mission He sends us on.)
Learn how to see the world as other people understand it.
Over the years a few things have helped me do this.
Travel. Yes traveling to different parts of the world will expose you to other ways of living and seeing the world. But you can remain in your bubble if you choose to do so. Or, you can let go of your way of doing things and try to live with the locals as much as you can.
Taking time to listen. Listening is becoming a lost skill. To listen to a person whose life view is different than mine takes patience and compassion. I have to want to listen first before I can hear anything another person is saying.
Willingness to learn. I enjoy learning about how other people live; how they view the world; why they believe what they believe. Yes, sometimes what I learn and hear makes me uncomfortable, but when I stay in that uncomfortable place rather than push it away, I learn. I learn just as much about me as I do about the other person.
Here are a few few things I have learned:
- I truly don’t see the whole picture.
- By no choice of my own, I am part of a dominant race/culture.
- Others won’t listen to me if I don’t listen to them.
- People who are 10, 20, 30, 40 years different in age than me really will see the world differently.
- How a person thinks about income or money available for basic needs will greatly impact their worldview. Some think about each day, others paycheck to paycheck, and others think generation to generation.
- Some look through an earthly lens. Others view the world from an eternal perspective.
Why is all of this important?
Because it is the mission God sends us on. And if we want to be successful at this mission, we need to understand how others view the world.
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