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Good Doing Comes After Good Listening.

When I worked for my father in construction, he always started the day by meeting with the workers. The supply house delivered sheet rock and left it on the sidewalk. Dad turned to me and told me to bring it to the fourth floor. Naturally, it did not fit in the elevator, so I had to bring it up by the stairway. The sheetrock was 12 feet long, and the stairway was 8 feet wide. Making the turn was hard, but I figured it out. When I was done, Dad approached me and said, “Good.” It is not what I wanted to do, but it is what I needed to do if I was to hear the word “good.” I learned that good doing always comes after good listening.

My first assignment was a parish, and when I got there, I had lots of great ideas. Among them were bolstering the CCD program, starting a Bible study, building a prayer garden, and improving the liturgies. But before I did any of that, I asked the parishioners what they wanted me to do. They emphasized that they wanted a youth program. The kids had nothing but the street, and we all know what happens when the kids hit the streets. It was not what I wanted to do, but it was the first thing I did, and it was successful. We got the kids off the street, and eventually, they went to college, got married, and had kids. I know this because I get Christmas cards from them every year. I would not get Christmas cards if I built a prayer garden.

Samuel is one of the most famous biblical figures in the Old Testament for good reason. Israel was going in the wrong direction. Samuel turned the nation around; he ushered in the Davidic era, and Israel prospered and grew. Do you know how Samuel got started? The first thing he did was say to God, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”

The other day, I prayed Psalm 1. That is the psalm that talks about the tree planted near running water, whose leaves never fade, and it always prospers. I did not merely say the words; I listened to them. God was talking to me, telling me to be that tree. I would be the one who would bear fruit, and people would benefit. That was my marching order from God. That day I was the tree, I would not fade, and I would deliver fruit that would benefit others. To me, it is not about running around doing a bunch of good things. It is about good listening because good listening always comes before good doing.

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