Friday, April 27, 2007

Learning to listen



Proverbs 15:1~"Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry."

I actually meant to write this weeks ago, but life would have it that this is the first night I have to actually sit in th stillness of my apartment and offer this.

Recently, I've discovered that we must pay clear attention to how we listen to our brothers and sisters. I've found that all to easily, in my "listening", I'm eager to offer stories which pertain to my life. Sometimes, I just offer the story in the midst of their conversation because I simply want to be heard, but other times, I do it as a means of relation. Once I find the opportunity to interject my point of view, I do so. I very rarely listen with the intent of just hearing the person.

Every week, I spend an hour or so with a girlfriend of mine. We talk and then close the night with prayer. On one such night, we got into her car and she asked me what was going on. Though she probably didn't realize it, she was expecting a long-winded story of all the things that had happened that week. But this time, as I opened my mouth to speak, I honestly found nothing to say. I tried to construct the stories I wanted to share, but there was a serious lack of desire to share with her. Not because I didn't want to tell her, but rather, I wanted to listen.

We arrived at a restaurant, ordered, and I asked her to tell me about her life. And she did, and in that period of time, God made me very aware of my thoughts. Constantly, I caught myself thinking of things to throw into the mix, be it advice, a story of my own, or whatever else. But I didn't talk. I just asked her questions about her story. And as she continued with all of the things on her heart, I caught a glimpse of what it is to listen. Even after she had finished, I didn't need to share. It was then that I realized how important it was for her to just talk to me, knowing I was absorbing her heart, prayerfully and didn't need to offer any of my "wisdom". And that night, the Lord did a massive work in her heart through prayer. I'm so grateful that He shut my mouth.

The Bible calls us to be quick to listen. What does that mean? It means slow to speak...hesitant, prayerful, patient. I think of the model of Jesus, how quietly He lived. That moment when He drew the line in the sand calling those without sin to cast the first stone. He didn't go on a long-winded rampage of how they should look at her heart and know their own. With nine words, He pierced their hearts. No need for explanation...and the teachers of the law turned around and left.

Listening is a beautiful way to exhibit your love for someone. Asking a question and letting them reveal some of the secrets of their heart. So my challenge becomes...do you and will you listen?

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