Talking with a friend yesterday, he told me about an experience he’d had with a minister acquaintance. He shared the difficulty he’s had conversing with the minister because the man doesn’t appear to listen when others are talking. My friend said, “Bottom line: I don’t feel like he cares about me. Every time we talk, this guy interrupts and turns it into a story of something he has done or about something he is facing. When he’s not talking, I know he’s thinking about what he’s going to say next. He doesn’t listen!” The closing statement saddened me, “I don’t spend much time with him anymore.”
It is important to listen to people (I’ve always heard that this is why God gave us two ears and only one mouth). When we listen, we discover what people are thinking and feeling. Listening, we can learn about people’s lives and interests. The practice of active listening will help us know where we can effectively minister, help and encourage. Listening is a something that sets a person apart as someone who cares and is involved, because people are dying to be heard.
Sitting on my porch this morning, my neighbor came outside to water her plants before leaving for work. As we talked, I asked questions and listened to her answers. I was able to learn more about her and her family. As she headed off to work, she waved at me. It was a good way to start the day. Lord, help me to be someone who practices the art of listening (to you and to those around me).
(By the way, there’s a great video on Verge Network from Michael Frost. On the video, he talks about listening to our neighborhood. It’s worth a watch.)