The blessings of awkwardness

Earlier this week I spent an hour as the guest of one of the groups who meet on our church premises: Baby Sensory. For the duration of the session our small hall was transformed into a multi-sensory wonderland of music, light, colour and movement for babies from 0-6months and their mums. I stuck out like the sorest of thumbs on account of being a) male and b) unaccompanied by a baby! That said, it was the most worthwhile investment of an hour for any communicator. Here was communication stripped back to its barest sensory minimum, where colours and sound predominate and a mother’s face is the Pole Star in the baby’s firmament.

As preachers and communicators we are usually in control of the environment where we communicate. Often we do the speaking and others do the listening.  To reverse those roles is both healthy and humbling. On the occasions where I have visited in prison my nervousness and hesitancy are my greatest companions – reminding me to listen and learn more than I talk and teach.  A little later on today I am attending a ‘banquet for the homeless’ , where I shall feel similarly inept and it will do me so much good.

People say we should all do one thing each day which scares us. If that idea is too scary – how about one thing each day which discomfits you?  Go on, give it a try – and those who listen to you in other contexts will thank you for it.