Listening can be a more valuable service 


than speaking.


Listening is a mark of humility. 



Two of the most difficult things to learn in life


are to sincerely listen carefully...


and bend low the ear of the heart.



The Scriptures remind us to... 


be ready to listen, and slow to speak.




Listening to God and listening to people 


were both important practices for Jesus.


Jesus was fully present with those whom He encountered.


Jesus, deliberately, gave people His full attention. 




To listen so that we may really understand, and wait... 


allowing the person to complete their story...


are two of the most beneficial things we can do for each other.



Jesus was kind and patient in allowing people to tell their stories. 

Jesus was empathetic. 

He was quick to pay attention to what was not said, as well.

Jesus mourned with people and was present in their pain.


Jesus knew the best ways to minister to people 


was by listening with His ears and His heart.



When people are in crisis, grief, or pain, 


they need someone who will listen.


James 1:19 gives us a Scriptural example,

 “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, 

slow to speak, slow to wrath.” 

Scripture itself encourages us to be quick to hear and slow to speak.

A good listener gets to know something. 

Listening is not a passive process.

We all know how upsetting it can be 


to have someone not listen to our feelings, 


not validate our suffering, 


not just stop for a minute and take our perspective 


and let us know they understand.

Many people do actually suffer from ADD; 

however, we live in a culture where

 attention deficit disorder, for some, 

has deliberately become the norm.

Have you ever found yourself mindlessly saying


“uh huh” when someone was trying to tell you something? 

 

We should feel deeply honored when someone invites us in 


to be a part of understanding the experiences they have


lived or are living. It is a great gift of trust 


that we should never take for granted.


We should always hold everything one has said in the strictest of confidence, 


even if the speaker has not requested it.


 People are sometimes open and vulnerable in times of crisis 


and nothing they say needs to be repeated 


outside of the confidence in which they have spoken to us.


A positively good parable for living life is the Golden Rule: 

"Do unto others what you would have them do unto you."

Have you been in a conversation with someone


and you were not really listening completely


to what they had to say because you are too busy


formulating your response?



Listening is essential in relationships. 


It is also important that we listen with our hearts 


to hear what is not being said; 


to see what feelings and needs are really being conveyed. 



To listen allows us to walk through the experience of another's life.

It is interesting that in James 1:19, James' opening exhortation is... 


“Be quick to listen, slow to speak,


 and slow to get angry.” 


This follows the same sequence that Luke uses 


after presenting the parable of the sower. 


"Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear."


Luke 8:8


Jesus follows it with the exhortation, 


“Consider carefully how you listen.” 


Luke 8:18 


In Matthew (13:9), Jesus immediately follows the parable with, 


“Whoever has ears, let them hear.”


We should even wait a moment before we begin to respond.


This gives the speaker a chance to add


anything else they may have thought of.



By waiting an additional moment before we reply


we also let the speaker know


they have been heard completely.



If we practice this for a time people will relax


when conversing with us because they will know


that they don’t have to rush to get their point across.



They will appreciate the fact that they can communicate


with us and be heard and respected.


Effective listening develops empathy,


which is the capacity for a deep understanding


of another's experience.


We should sincerely work to understand one's message;


and ask relevant, open-ended questions to clarify


and learn more, i.e.,


(“What do you mean by that?” or


“When did that happen?…”)


this may help us stay involved.

We should avoid steering others off topic


with questions or comments


that aren’t related to the conversation. 


Finishing sentences for others and interrupting


sends a message that what you have to say


is more important and can diminish the speaker’s


sense of control and importance.


Not interrupting gives the speaker 


a sense of importance, 


and it is the respectful thing to do.


Allowing the person to completely finish their thought,


before you begin to form a response,


is crucial to good listening.


If you need to move the conversation along, do so politely, as in,


“Excuse me, I'm so sorry for interrupting, 


but ….”


Likewise, be careful not to jump to conclusions


or assume you know what has not yet been said.


Trying to persuade others without fully listening


to their point of view can, sometimes,


 short circuit our blessings.


Who knows...


we could end up learning something


that could change our viewpoint... or life.  


May we allow others to fully explain their position, problem, etc.,


before jumping in with a reply.


May we listen with the genuine intent 


to understand what the speaker is communicating.


 "It is better to listen in order to understand...


than to listen in order to reply."


May we be more receptive to the speaker’s needs –


they may just need us to listen,


and not try to fix the problem.



Sometimes being listened to is enough. 

“We have two ears and one mouth


so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

Are you listening for understanding,


or are you focused more on what you are going to say next? 



As the other person is speaking, 


are you not actually listening to much of what the other person is saying,


or are you busy crafting your response?

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing,


a creative force.

Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages


 in the communication process. 


Listening is key to all effective communication. 


Without the ability to listen effectively, 


messages are easily misunderstood.




Listening is Not the Same as Hearing.


Listening requires focus and concentrated effort.


Listening means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told.


Listening is an under valued art. 


Constantly talking isn’t necessarily...


communicating.

Paying attention



 is the cardinal rule for good listening.

* Pay attention to sound


* Hear with thoughtful attention


* Be considerate

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person 


is to listen... 


just listen.

"No one is as deaf as the person


who will not listen."

Tips for being a good listener:



Maintain good eye contact. 


When we don't look someone in the eyes, 


it can come off as being arrogant, untrustworthy,


 disingenuous, or stand-offish. 



Our outward behavior can speak volumes and even create discomfort. 


Crossed arms can send the wrong message. 


Studies have shown that the subtleties of body language, tone,


 and posturing accounts for a huge part of how information is


 communicated or miscommunicated.


Let us cultivate the right demeanor. 




Listen with all senses and seriously concentrate and consider what is being said.


Ask questions, when there is a pause, that take the conversation deeper.


Do not interrupt or speak over someone who is talking.


Nodding aggressively when someone is talking to you 

 indicates you are impatient and want the speaker to finish speaking quickly! 

This makes other people feel invalidated and rushed.

 Instead, let us gently and occasionally, nod our head to indicate agreement

 and interest in what the other person is telling us.


Let us PRAY for the gift of a listening heart.

"Wise men talk because they have something to say," Plato once said. 


"Fools, because they have to say something."



We can all become better communicators if...


we train ourselves to listen more.


To put more effort into listening


and less into telling


 is very rewarding.




Listen...