There is a Chinese saying – 耳边风(er bian feng), translated literally into English means the “wind beside the ear.” This saying means to ignore what others are telling you, treating the words that come out of their mouth as air passing by the ear but not entering.
I confess, growing up, I have had adults (especially my mom) use this saying on me a little too often. I think I was more interested in letting others know what I wanted them to know instead of listening to what they needed.
I never planned to become a Preacher, but here I am. When people I meet ask me what I do for a living, I tell them my job is to talk, or that is what I used to say. The title for my job on the street is “preacher,” and I understood it exactly as that – to communicate the gospel to others, to explain it in a way they can understand and accept, to convince them to believe in Jesus. It was all about talking. Words coming out of my mouth and entering into the ears of others and hopefully their mind so that they would change their hearts.
Over the years, I have learned that the most effective way to get my message into the hearts of my listeners is not through their ears. Since most of the time, my words simply end up as wind beside those ears. The most effective way to help my listeners accept the gospel is to first spend time listening to them. The Holy Spirit can use the words they speak to change their hearts much better than the words I speak. My job was not to preach but to participate in the Holy Spirit’s work. Therefore, the words I use are mainly probing words rather than words to convince them.
The wind (ruah) that moves is the Holy Spirit, and He will enter not only the ear of the listeners but also their minds and hearts. Reducing the wind that comes out of my mouth and letting the wind of God work is definitely the better approach for moving the mission of God forward.
Right now, in my ministry, I no longer see myself as the key mover but as a participant. My job is to collaborate and communicate if necessary, but it is God’s work to convince and convert. I have learned to stop obstructing God in what He wants to do and facilitate that process through my listening ear.
Listening is what I do now. Listening to others is crucial, but more importantly, listening to the mover of hearts – the Holy Spirit is critical. I can confidently tell my mom the wind still move beside my ears, but nowadays, they move in, through, and all around me.
It is a learning journey, and I will continue to listen. How is it that I never realized how fun it is to listen and how valuable listening can be to a person when I was young? I’m glad I am listening now!