“You’re on Mute. Press Unmute.”

Why Australia needs your voice now.

by Cath Tallack

[5 minute read]

 

Recently I was lamenting with a colleague from Arrow UK about how tired I was of talking to silent zoom rooms where everyone is on mute and I get no response, the room is literally silent. Am I even funny? Engaging? Saying the right things? I don’t even know anymore. Before I had the opportunity to have a total identity crisis my colleague simply said, “Cath why do they need to be on mute?” My answer, “I’m not sure, it’s just what is done.”

With this in mind and encouraged by my colleague, I led my first session with participants unmuted. I encouraged them to press mute if they had to sneeze or the garbage truck turned up etc, but otherwise leave themselves off mute and respond the way they would in a physical gathering. The result was simply marvelous. There was laughter, hmmming, clapping, cheering and it felt more like the real thing than I have experienced in over a year.  (Not to mention no-one needed to utter the phrase of the last 12 months, “You’re on mute!”) It got me thinking about this question, “Where else do we need to ‘unmute’ ourselves?”

The reality is, for us here in Australia, we are living in a very different context to the rest of the world. While COVID is still a reality and impacting essentially everything we do and how we live our lives, it is reasonably under control and we are able to meet, gather, celebrate and even travel safely domestically. I even had a friend visit from Melbourne recently and I hugged her. (I’m not sure if this is strictly COVID safe but my point stands nonetheless.) With all of this freedom we are experiencing – in stark contrast for those mostly in the northern hemisphere – I feel that the influence of authors, speakers, bloggers, podcasters and others from vastly different contexts and COVID experiences is increasingly losing its relevance.

This is not to say that we should completely shut off voices from other contexts. In fact, I personally am currently trying to widen the inclusion of eastern contributors to my sphere of influence. I’m still thoroughly enjoying doing Nicki Gumble’s ‘Bible in one Year’ devotion[1] and I’m not in a hurry to stop my subscription to blogs by some of the best and most biblical, creative and wise leaders and teachers from North America, Europe and the UK.

However, I think it’s time Australian influencers unmute themselves for the sake of our context, mission, purpose and the lost in our own country. We need to hear from those that truly understand who we are and the reality and context we are living in right now. We need to hear from those that are connected, invested, vision seeing and setting and have a better understanding of what it means to be Australian than anyone else. We need to hear from you!

So, my encouragement and perhaps challenge to you today is to unmute yourself for the sake of the Kingdom in Australia. Start a blog, write a worship song, write a book, contribute to a devotional, start that podcast, speak at that event, paint that painting, start that pottery or photographic series. Seek God on what he would have you say and how He would use your unique set of gifts and abilities to say it and unmute yourself for the sake of the Kingdom and the mission of God.

There are any number of reasons why you might say “no” to raising your voice and I want to address a couple of them now.

  1. I’m too young

I am in the business of investing in young leaders, it is a huge part of what I feel called to. (I’m also a young leader myself - I’m 38. You can decide if you think that’s young or not. I’m still saying yes.) It’s important to recognise as a young leader that you only know what you know, that you are yet to experience a range of different things that will make you wiser and smarter and better. But you are who you are right now and if you are willing, God will use you. So, write what you know, be inspired by your own, current experience of God. Remember Paul’s words to Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Tim 4:12). What’s the best way for you to set an example for those around you with who you are and what you know right now?

  1. It’s been done

A colleague of mine, a consultant on community development and not-for-profit management as well as an Arrow presenter, often tells a story about how someone came to her and asked if they could start a ‘community garden.’ Her first thought was, “Urgh, everybody is doing community gardens, let’s be different.” But after some urging and considered conversation, she agreed to begin the project. It was a truly successful project! She shares the story of one man who was so lonely he had thoughts of ending his life. He found friendship, community, purpose and love in that garden and stayed a part of the project for many years to journey with others who found the same sense of community through something that “had been done” before. It’s true that there are more blogs, podcasts and other projects out there than we could ever get a handle on, but perhaps it’s your voice that needs to be heard by someone specifically in this season.

We’ve all experienced that feeling on zoom where we put a thought out there and all we receive is silence in return because everyone is on mute. It’s time to unmute! It’s time to unmute your thoughts, passions, flare and creativity and speak into the unique environment, culture and context that we, as Australians, are living in right now.


[1] https://bibleinoneyear.org