Listening can be a more valuable service
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 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.
A good listener gets to know something.
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.
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.
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."
Jesus follows it with the exhortation,
“Consider carefully how you listen.”
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.
Trying to persuade others without fully listening
to their point of view can, sometimes,
short circuit our blessings.
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.