When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.Ernest Hemingway
GUILTY AS CHARGED.
Too many conversations have I had that my own agenda has muddled my ability to listen well. We’ve taught our kids to do hard things, to stand up for what they believe in, to make a difference in this world.
But, have we taught them to listen?
Are we listening?
Am I listening?
For example; how often do we ask people how they are or what kind of week they’ve had and then immediately start thinking about what we’ll say next? Completely missing their actual response. We assume they probably said something to the effect of, “ I’m okay or everything’s fine, and you?”. What does it really mean to say “I’m okay” anyway?
How many discussions have we been a part of that ended abruptly with “You’re not listening to me!”? We can do better than this. From sitting with our families at our dinner tables, in our social media posts, all the way to Washington, D.C., we desperately need to be intentional to not just hear, but to listen. Here are a couple of examples listed in the dictionary. Take note of the differences.
To hear means to perceive with the ear the sound made by (someone or something). To be told or informed of.
To listen means to take notice of and act on what someone says; respond to advice or a request. To make an effort to hear something; be alert and ready to hear something. Used to urge someone to pay attention to what one is going to say.
See how the posture of each word is different? To hear seems to be a posture of receiving information. But, to listen seems more conversational. When we listen our posture is much more two-sided. Isn’t that better option for our conversations?
This morning my youngest daughter Olivia and I went to a prayer service at sunrise, the pastor said something that stuck with me. He was sharing out of John 8 about the woman caught in adultery. He explained that Jesus had a conversation with the woman, He did not condemn her. Her accusers were those who would not listen. Those who thought they knew it all and had the right to throw stones. Aren’t we like this sometimes, throwing our verbal stones in an effort to make our point, to be heard.
Jesus said, “Let anyone who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”John 8:7
The way of condemnation is not The Way of Jesus, it will not lead to transformation. Intentional conversation covered in prayer, spoken with truth and love. This is how people get set free!
I write this with deep conviction. I sincerely pray for a holy revival in our way of communicating with one another. Friends, we cannot expect change if we aren’t willing to change ourselves. We have opportunities everyday to listen and to speak. Are we willing to lay our opinions down, hold our tongues, and allow our conversations be seasoned with grace?
Father forgive us for times when we have not listened well, when we have come to the table with our own agendas. Give us ears to not only hear, but to pay attention to the words of those who come across our paths today. Just like your Word so beautifully states, may our conversations be always full of grace. Help us to keep a humble posture in our interactions with others. I pray our hearts would be tuned into your voice. That we would be a testimony of your Amazing Love. Amen.Carly