Faith Matters: Obeying the L-Word

Pastor Shawn Hannon
Contributing Writer Pastor Shawn Hannon

If there is a single word I find myself saying to my children more than any other, it’s got to be the “L-word.” You know the one: “Listen.” I wish it were love, but if I’m honest, Listen tends to flow off of my tongue just a bit more frequently.

I dream of a world where toys get picked up the first time I ask, and shoes get put on without delay or distraction. A world where sibling fighting ceases upon command. Where school work get done without complaining and piano gets practiced without an argument. A world like when I was a child and children listened to their parents and obeyed without a quarrel. *cough cough

Of course such a world will never exist, but that does not mean I will stop by desire for my children to listen.

Although, I was convicted by scripture last week when I read words from Matthew that Jesus had for me, and repeatedly I heard his own call for me to listen. Listen, Jesus started. He continued to give examples of ways we hear God’s word, but fail to actually listen to it. In the end he commanded again, “Let those with ear, listen.” (Matthew 9)

And I realized, that as much as I wish my children would listen, so too God longs for us to hear God’s words of life and listen to them as well. And boy are grown-ups just as capable of ignoring commands and doing whatever we want.

The issue, of course, is that each time we do not listen, we are not hurting God. We are only hurting ourselves.

I do not want my children to listen because I’m tired of repeating myself or to avoid my own frustration. I want them to listen to us because we know they need sleep and will be happier and healthier with a balanced diet instead of just cereal and chips. Because we know that their entire lives will be blessed by their sibling bonds and friendship even if they cannot see that yet—so stop fighting! Because we know that learning piano and reading books will do much more for their development than binge watching marathons Teen Titans Go on Cartoon Network.

Their listening isn’t for us, it’s for them.

The gospel—the word of the kingdom—is the same. God doesn’t demand our obedience merely for his sake. He’s a loving parent and he knows what is best for us even when we cannot see it ourselves. And so he bids us to dwell in his word and listen to it.


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Pastor Shawn is a 2010 graduate of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, and he began his call at Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade NY that summer. While he spent four years learning and serving churches in South and North Carolina, as a Jamestown, NY native, Western New York has always been home. He is glad to be here. Pastor Shawn and his wife Carol Hannon met while attending SUNY Geneseo in the mid-2000s. They have enjoyed making their home together in Arcade with their daughters Quinn and Perry.   Pastor Shawn has a background in youth and outdoor ministry. He is a former camper and staff person at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center in Bemus Point, NY. He has also served camps in urban settings and oversees in Madagascar. In seminary he was recognized for gifts in Greek and New Testament, and in his senior year was recognized with awards in both Preaching and Biblical Studies. Pastor Shawn continues to emphasize the youth in his ministry, but not simply because they are the future church, but because they are the church of today.  He also enjoys working on service projects, and takes the role of planning meaningful and engaging worship seriously.  He loves helping people find ways to put their passion and energy to work making their community and other people’s worlds a better place. When he is not working at church, Shawn enjoys remodeling and construction projects around his family’s home.  But as busy as he gets, PS always has time for a quick nine (okay, 18) on the golf course. He enjoys playing sports of all kinds and fiddling with his guitar.