To listen as those who are taught

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, *
nor your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, *
    so are my ways higher than your ways,
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Canticle 10, BCP 86)

I’m something of a professional know-it-all.

My job is to be the “expert,” helping the sales executives of my company by articulating a vision of patient flow in hospitals and demonstrating how our solutions have helped our clients achieve impressive outcomes.

I’m very good at what I do, and I have been doing it for nearly ten years with this company, both as a client and as a member of the sales team.

In that ten years, though, the company has added many new capabilities, acquired new technologies, and recruited lots of new people who bring their expertise into the mix. Frankly, it’s fun to have so many cool things to present on and talk about.

However, it’s often hard for us “know-it-alls” to become students again. It’s very easy to become so invested in the way you articulate your vision that you can’t hear new ideas. I struggle especially to really listen to how new leaders in the company articulate their vision of what we do.

Copyright Mark Anderson

Isaiah the prophet describes this conundrum beautifully:

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens — wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. (Isaiah 50:4-5)

For me, this lesson has immediate import. I will be spending all of next week in meetings of our national sales team, where we will be learning about new product offerings and how they integrate (or will integrate) with our current solutions. We’ll even spend a day visiting a client hospital to hear how they use our solutions every day.

I’ll need to “listen as those who are taught” and resist the impulse to “turn backward” into the familiar content I know so well. Many of the people that I hear from next week that will not follow my usual script.

If I can listen carefully, then my new presentations will bear new fruit and my new demonstrations will “accomplish that which I purpose” (to continue Isaiah’s thought in Canticle 10).

Who might you need to listen to this week, setting aside your own ideas so that you can take in a new word? What will keep you from doing this?


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