“Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Sam. 3:10
Last Friday, ESPN’s Seth Wickersham dropped a bomb on the sports world. He wrote an article which suggested the end of the New England Patriots dynasty in football. The end of the Tom Brady era is not all that earth-shattering. He is a 40-year-old quarterback. What was shocking to the world was reading about the in-house fighting among the team’s three most powerful people.
The New England Patriots have been the epitome of team unity. Head coach Bill Belichick is a master of building the team concept. During their first Super Bowl, he had the Patriots bypass individual introductions in favor of the whole team taking the field. It was a symbol of their unity. Despite being the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady’s humility enhances the perception. Owner Robert Kraft’s support of Belichick, Brady, and fans models the team first mentality.
The problem, according to Wickersham, is communication. It seems as though the big three have grown tired of listening to each other. The impact is being felt most by the younger and non-star players. If they listen to Belichick, Brady will not trust them. If they listen to Brady, Belichick will rip them apart. The Patriots official response? Typical of our time, it’s fake news.
You might not be a sports fan, but the story models the climate of our nation. National unity seems to be giving way to nationalism. One understands the importance of working for the common good. The other sees every challenging voice as a threat. Facts are secondary to our opinion-driven news and truth debatable. Besides, if you don’t like what you hear, call it fake news. It all makes my head hurt. Who should I listen to?
Sometimes ancient stories provide helpful insight for us living in the modern age. Today’s reading shows how often people are met with confusion when they are most eager to listen. And, how even the wisest in our midst can be dim to wisdom.
The most important lesson, though, comes from Samuel. He learns that merely declaring yourself present does not encourage communication. It is the one who invites the other to speak who is ready to listen. Those who listen discover more than unity, they gain wisdom in a confusing world.
Click to read: 1 Samuel 3: 1-20
- What most stands in your way of listening?
- When have you spoken and not felt heard?
- What is the difference between being present and being open?
- Where do you hear the voice of God speaking?