April 10, 2017
I Hear You!
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak … (James 1:19, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Every relationship begins with listening. Listening is hard work and something we are not prone to do. I tend to use listening time as time to prepare the eloquent things I am going to say when the other person stops talking.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt got tired of smiling that big smile he was known for and saying the usual things he said at the White House receptions. One evening he decided to find out if anyone was really listening to what he was saying. As each person came up to him to shake his hand, he flashed his big smile and said, "I murdered my grandmother this morning." People automatically responded with comments such as "How lovely" or "Keep up the great work, Mr. President." Nobody listened to what he was saying except for one foreign diplomat. When the president said, "I murdered my grandmother this morning," the diplomat softly responded, “I’m sure she had it coming, Mr. President.”
There is a reason God created us with two ears and one mouth. We need to listen twice as much as we speak. Listening should always take precedence over speaking.
Proverbs 18:13 (NIV) “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.”
Listening is the first step we should take to act out Scriptural truth. Jesus modeled this principle in a powerful way. If anyone had all the answers … if anyone had the right to do all the talking … it was Jesus. But if you read the gospels, you will find His conversations were always saturated with questions.
Remember when Jesus was just a boy and was accidentally left behind by His parents when they went to Jerusalem for Passover? Where was He found? In the temple.
“After three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46).
Jesus knew how to ask questions.
In the gospel of Mark there are 67 conversations. In those 67 conversations, Jesus asked 50 questions. Jesus asked questions … and then He listened.
People listen to people who listen.
Jesus had way of listening to people that reached into their heart and soul. Jesus knew how to prime the pump. When we take the time to ask questions and then really listen to the answers people give, we are priming the pump of their hearts. What is inside will come pouring out.
Listening doesn’t require that we fix anything or even that we arrive at a solution. Listening sends the message, “I’m here for you. I want to understand your pain.I’m willing to share your pain.”
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about unless you are willing to listen.
When our two children were young, we had a set bedtime routine. After dinner, they played for about an hour before taking a bath and brushing their teeth. I then asked them to choose a book to read before going to sleep. We would then snuggle under a blanket while reading the book. We all prayed together and I tucked them in. Ba-da-beem. Ba-da-boom. Right? In a perfect world, maybe, but we all know this world is far from perfect.
One night, Dan was out of town and needed to study, so I was trying to hurry up the bedtime routine. Our son was easy, but our daughter – not so much. When I walked into her room and lay down beside her on her bed, she took one look at me and immediately turned away. “Honey, what’s wrong?” I asked. Nothing. “Danna, please talk to me,” I persisted. She finally turned back to me and said, “You’re not here, Mama.” I was incredulous. “Honey, I am right here. Ready to read a book with you and tuck you in.” Danna turned back to me and softly but surely drove home the truth, “Mama, you’re not here on the inside.”
I run headlong through each twenty-four hours from the minute my feet hit the floor until I crawl into bed each night. It is in those quiet moments before sleep that I hear Him ask, “Did you make a difference today? Did you recognize that “intruder” or “interruption” as a divine appointment from Me instead of an inconvenience?
Jesus would have done things differently. With every breath, He was aware of the hurting and wounded, pursuing the broken people instead of avoiding them. Jesus carefully and deliberately invested every moment of His time on earth. He listened then … and He listens now. And there has never been a life that has made such a difference or mattered so much!
Father, I know I miss so many chances to truly listen to those people You place in my life. Forgive me for not taking the time to genuinely listen to them. Forgive me for being selfish and self-centered. Break my heart for the hurting people around me. Help me learn to listen to others in the same way You listen to me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Be honest. Are you a good listener? If not … why? Is it because you are more concerned about yourself than the person who is speaking? Is it because you are too busy to really listen? Ask the Father to make you someone who really listens.
More from the Girlfriends
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Originally published Monday, 10 April 2017.