Did You Hear That?

512px-Brown_Quail“The place is desolate and it is already quite late; … but He answered and said to them, ‘You give them something to eat,” Mark 6:35b, 37a.

“What should I be trying to hear?”

That’s the question I asked the first time Rich took me out in the north woods of Minnesota to do a quail count. Rich worked for the Game, Fish, and Parks Department of northern Minnesota. Each spring they tried to assess, as accurately as possible, the number of quail and the health of the flock in their region.

“How do you do a quail count,” I asked?

“You listen for their ‘drumming’,” was his answer.


At that moment, I heard a drum-like vibration.  “Did you hear that? That’s the sound the males make with their wings as part of their courtship ritual. That’s drumming,” he explained.

Listen I did. And ‘drumming’ I heard. And counting was accomplished!

As you listen to recordings of your messages, you may be asking a similar question, “What should I be trying to hear?” Like Rich did for me, I’ll try to help you hear the ‘drumming’.

Let’s start with the timing. Did you ‘beat your wings/jaws’ too long? Remember the old adage, the mind can only absorb what the seat can endure. By the way, those who say they could listen to you all day are either your mother or delusional. Don’t listen to them.

Remember Christ and his disciple’s sensitivity for the overall needs of listeners. For instance, when listeners were gathered for a hillside, daylong retreat where they heard the greatest of all Preachers, He considered their need for food. The feeding of the five thousand was a miracle of Divine consideration. And for those of us who preach and speak, whether it’s a retreat or a worship service, sensitivity to the practical needs of our listeners makes our preaching more effective.

Do you hear the ‘drumming’? As you listen, God will help you make an accurate assessment of the health of your preaching. Timing’s only one of the measuring rods. You guessed it; there’s more drumming to consider.

*Quail image by Duncan Wright

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