I've been writing the last couple of weeks about the discipline of listening. I must again admit that I'm a novice at this discipline.
This week I've been trying to put into practice the spiritual discipline of “Indifference.” “Indifference” doesn't mean anything like “I don't care” or “It doesn't make any difference to me,” but has more to do with the idea of holding things lightly. As Ruth Haley Barton puts it,
“This is an ‘interior freedom’ or state of openness to God in which we are free from undue attachment to any particular outcome….There is a capacity to relinquish whatever might keep us from choosing God and love, and we have to come to a place where we want God and God’s will more than anything – more than ego gratification, more than wanting to look good in the eyes of others, more than personal ownership, comfort or advantage.”
As someone with a personal makeup that is fairly intense, I find the idea of listening in general hard and exercising “indifference” towards something a bit of a departure from my core make up.
While I think there are many nuances to this concept, where it has shown up for me is in the interactions I've had this week. I've tried to move into each one of them holding the “outcome lightly.” The ultimate goal has been to try to listen (dual process – listening to the person and attempting to attune my ear to the voice of God) and not being dominated by what I want or what would be best for me.
One example can be found in an interaction I had with another pastor here in Spokane. As potential result of the connection could have been a significant advantage for myself and for the church plant I'm working on, so I had to prepare myself going into the meeting to not try to move the conversation a particular way or to create a pathway so that I could get it where I wanted. What I attempted to do was stay in a listening posture hoping to hear through what he was sharing and hoping for God's Will to be displayed in some way. I think that was accomplished.
How hard is it for you to engage others while holding your personal aspiration lightly?