Teach Me To Listen...
What are your workplace hopes and aspirations? What are your fears and concerns? And, more significantly, what are you praying for? Perhaps we are tempted to ask God to provide us with coworkers who are always hardworking, well behaved and appreciative of our efforts. Maybe we would settle for colleagues who are positive, supportive and competent. What is our true heart’s desire? Less stress? Less bureaucracy? Less external interference? More pay? Better quality resources? Greater professional freedom?
1 Kings 3:5-15 tells of a conversation between God and 20-year-old Solomon, the newly crowned King of Israel. Verse 5 says: ‘the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” ’Solomon recalls God’s great kindness to his father, King David; he recognises his own inexperience; and he acknowledges the awesome responsibility with which he is charged. Solomon then makes his request: ‘give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong’ (v9). The English phrase ‘discerning heart’ does not do justice to the original Hebrew. Solomon does not ask for human intellect so that, using his own grey matter, he can make wise decisions. Rather he asks for lebh shomea (a listening heart). The Message puts it like this: ‘Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil.’ Solomon could have asked for long life or material wealth or the destruction of his enemies. Instead he chose to ask for a listening heart. Why? Because he wanted to be good at his job. Solomon knew that, to be truly effective, he would need to make workplace decisions based on God’s values, advice and insights, rather than his own or those of his human counsellors. God loves Solomon’s answer! He says: ‘I’ll give you what you’ve asked for – I’m giving you a wise and mature heart … As a bonus, I’m giving you both the wealth and glory you didn’t ask for … So, in our place of work, let’s choose to ask for a God-listening heart so we can fulfil our calling.