One of our key tasks as Christian leaders is to do the kind of interior work so that we find our own voice i.e. the voice God has given us for the world. That is no small task. This has been a life message of my mentor, Leighton Ford, over the last 30 years. When I was with him last month, he shared this wonderful poem by Mary Oliver. It has served as a rich companion to my meditation on Jesus as He bravely launched His ministry and resisted the Evil One (Matt.3-4). Too many people never find their own voice and simply repeat the things they have heard for their entire lives. Too many of us don’t lead as a result. May God give us grace to be brave and let our voices be heard. Take some time and prayerfully read this lovely poem. Then go back and read Matthew 3:13-4:11 and consider its application to the life of Jesus.
THE MOCKINGBIRD Mary Oliver
All summer the mockingbird in his pearl-gray coat and his white-windowed wings
flies from the hedge to the top of the pine and begins to sing, but it’s neither lilting nor lovely,
for he is the thief of other sounds— whistles and truck brakes and dry hinges plus all the songs of other birds in his neighborhood;
mimicking and elaborating, he sings with humor and bravado, so I have to wait a long time for the softer voice of his own life
to come through. He begins by giving up all his usual flutter and settling down on the pine’s forelock then looking around
as though to make sure he’s alone; then he slaps each wing against his breast, where his heart is, and, copying nothing, begins
easing into it as though it was not half so easy as rollicking, as though his subject now
was his true self, which of course was as dark and secret as anyone else’s, and it was too hard—
perhaps you understand— to speak or to sing it to anything or anyone but the sky.