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Finding Your Voice

Posted on February 6th, 2014


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.

Mary Oliver

All summer
the mockingbird
in his pearl-gray coat
and his white-windowed wings

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.

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