A Good Listener

A Good Listener
Proverbs 21:28
Tamika Brown

I often say to my son “I know you HEAR me but are you LISTENING to me?”.

Personally, I get tired of repeating myself. I mean really – how many times do I have to say something before it sticks? Parents, I know you know what I mean; it’s like our beautiful babies “hear” us but simply refuse to “listen” to us. And if we’re being honest, it’s not just children who are guilty of this.

This week’s prayer and study focus is listening. I feel confident in stating that listening is a skill set, and not just one for kids. As adults, consistently taking time to hone our listening skills is a huge benefit; not just for ourselves but also to those around us.

I would imagine that many of us have seen the job search advice about soft skills and how Active Listening is very important to success. At its heart though the term active listening is a bit redundant. Listening, by all accounts, is active. It requires participation.

Pastor Robinson wrote in the devotional Closed Ears, that “when we LISTEN, we LEARN from what we hear”.  During Lent we most often hear that we should fast from/give up things (people) so that we may draw closer to God. Becoming a Good Listener just might be something we should take on.

You may be asking, “well how do I become a good listener or hone my listening skills?” … I’m glad you asked!

A Good Listener, engages. When was the last time you were in dialogue with someone and truly engaged in the conversation? Engagement means we are following along and when necessary, asking clarifying questions. When you read God’s word, do you ask questions of the text?

A Good Listener considers/processes. After hearing what is said, we must also consider or process that information. We must, as Philippians 4:8 says, “think on these things”.  In this fast-paced world it is easy to let things go in one ear and right out the other. When speaking with others or even reflecting on Sunday Sermons, how long do you meditate on what was taught? When God answers our prayers – especially when it’s not what we want to hear – do we sit with it?

A Good Listener avoids interrupting. Yes, interrupting and engaging are two very distinct things. And you KNOW the difference when you’re in the act! Talking over others, working hard to make our point heard or share our (many times questionable) advice are all forms of interruption. Listening, centers the speaker. It creates an opportunity to share information, seek feedback, teach a lesson, or simply vent.

[Side Note] As an engaged listener, it’s ok to ask the speaker what they would like from you. The same is true in our spiritual lives. If we are to grow, we must also be ok with asking God “… now what is it that I should do with this information? Is there an action item for me here or are you just sharing the good news?” This is not an indicator that we lack faith. But instead that we are keen to strengthen our faith and obedience.

A Good Listener defers judgement. Deferring judgment allows a good listener to be fully present. It means that as listeners we are as I mentioned before, centering the speaker. It means we are focused on the scripture so that we know how it applies to us and how we can apply it.  Luvvie Jones penned a tongue-in-cheek book entitled “I’m Judging You” and really, this is all of us, just out here being Judgy McJudgersons! Now saints – and ain’ts – I know this is a tough one, but we must learn to gain control of the knee jerk response to judge when we are listening! Can you imagine if God acted like us?!? Whew!

Listening FOR and TO God’s voice is a daily practice. Some days, we don’t do so well. Other days, we ace it. But remember, practice doesn’t make perfect – practice makes progress and that’s what God wants from each of us during this Lenten Season and always.

Lord, you know we struggle both in our spiritual and daily lives. Thank you for not just hearing our prayers but also listening to them. Thank you for engaging us and sending us a word or a person to help us along the way. In Jesus name. Amen.
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