by Pastor Brad Rogers

In 2009 while traveling on a United Airlines flight, musician Dave Carroll’s guitar was damaged by baggage handlers at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. He arrived at his final destination in Omaha only to discover that his $3,500 Taylor guitar was irreparably damaged. After spending a hopeless nine months corresponding with customer service, he took a new tactic. Carroll wrote a humorous song entitled “United Breaks Guitars” which he posted to YouTube. The video went viral with over 150,000 views the first week and caused United’s stock price to plummet by 10 percent—the equivalent of $180 million in shareholder value. It suffices to say, United took notice, and Carroll received a phone call from the Director of Customer Solutions who wanted to make it right. Compared with the nine months of waiting for customer service to respond, this was a powerful and speedy solution!

Today, those who have felt voiceless and unheard have found a voice. The internet, especially social media, has given power and speed to our communication. Now it seems that everyone has a proverbial bullhorn to broadcast views quickly to the world. Sometimes it results in real change.

The power and speed of our newfound voice has led to a culture where the default mode of operation could be summarized as “be quick to speak and quicker to become angry.” With everyone talking, there seems to be little in the way of deep listening or reflection. Especially in these complex and volatile times, I wonder if the greater power isn’t in finding our voice, but in spiritual listening.

The words of James, the brother of Jesus, have been resonating and reverberating in my mind in recent weeks: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

These words stand in direct contrast to the spirit of the times. The pace and connectivity of life have flattened power structures and given immense power to individuals. With great power comes great responsibility to steward that power through Christian discernment. As Christians, our true power comes from listening and hearing the still small voice of God speaking gently, lovingly, and peacefully in this chaotic world. As pastors, teachers, and parents have often observed, you do not break through the noise by hollering over it, but by gently and calmly speaking under it. Our God is speaking right here and right now. Can you hear the still, small Voice? Listen up!

Lord, amid all the cacophony of voices of this world, enable us to hear Your still, small Voice. You said in Your Word, “my sheep listen to my voice.” Grant that we may hear and listen to Your voice. Then, and only then, may we speak with the gentleness and true power of your Spirit. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen.