Sunday, September 21, 2008

Listen II: LIstening as Ministry

Honor others by listening with respect to all they say.
This is the second post in a series on listening. Have you been heard? Is your spouse, boss, friends, co-workers, pastor hearing you? Oh, you know when they fake it; and you know when you are not truly heard. Hold onto the feeling of not being heard, when you've shared earnestly with someone and they chose to tune out. That feeling gives you empathy for those you choose to tune out. Overworked, over-committed, overwhelmed sums up most folks' situation too many days. It is difficult to listen intently when you're in!!!

Paul Tournier has written much on listening to God and to others. He says, ".... find a quiet, peaceful person who knows how to listen and who isn't thinking all the time about what he has to do next. If your life is chock-full already, there won't be room for anything else. Even God can't get anything else in. So it becomes essential to cut something out.)"1

I've studied listening from the Bible and relationship experts for years. I promise to give you the best nuggets I've mined out of thousands of pages of wisdom. The first keys are honor, respect and patience.

From Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:4 "Love is very patient and kind...." Jesus Christ's attitude shows us how to listen to all people with respect. As Christians we can treat people with His attitude. As we recall His interactions with others He was the best model in listening with honor, respect and patience.

Boring......."why can't she get to the point without all of this minute detail?" That was my big problem in listening before God convicted me to hear Him and listen to others compassionately. As a selfish impatient youth I honestly believed I should never be bored. Ironically, I'm seldom bored now that I have learned to listen openly to others.

Every human being has basic needs to belong to others and to be understood. Paul Tournier,
"No one can fully develop in this world and find a full life without feeling understood by at least one person. No one comes to know himself through introspection or in the solitude of his personal diary. Rather, it is in dialogue with his meeting with other people."

In dealing with others, I figure out who I am and who God made me to be. That’s why I need relationships. My first breakthrough in listening was to identify my impatience with others was my main problem in listening. I lacked understanding of some people.
It is in seeing the hurt, anger and need in people that I am gaining understanding. In listening with an open heart I see the pain behind anger and whining. Listening is deeper than hearing. In Proverbs 18:13 Solomon wisely advises me, "Listen before you answer. If you don't you are being stupid and insulting." ....Living Bible states it "What a shame...yes, how stupid! decide before knowing the facts!"

Yes, in time I realized it is true God gave me two ears and one mouth. I had flipped it and used my mouth much more than concentrating on hearing with understanding: listening.

Enough about me....let's see how well you listen. How would you rate yourself as a listener? How would those around you rate you? On a scale of 1 - 10 how do you rate as a listener?

Watch out, you may consider yourself better than you really are.. Research has shown that only 7% of the meaning of what we say is communicated in words. 43% of that meaning comes from how we say it:

  • vocal tone

  • pitch

  • volume

  • delivery.
The remaining 50% of the true meaning comes from non verbal language:
  • facial expressions

  • hand gestures

  • body language.

Because of these facts on listening phone conversations are only 50% effective. We can’t see what the other person is communicating through their body. I learned that my eyes were as important as my ears in listening.

Dare to experiment with me this week and give others the benefit of the doubt and commit to "hear" them, no matter what. Give them your total attention. Honor and respect them with a Christ-like attitude and let patience flow through you all situations. Send in your comments because I want to read them and "listen" to you!!!

1 Paul Tournier, A Listening Ear: Reflections on Christian Caring (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1984).

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© 2008 Kay Martin

Thrive In Christ

Who I Am In Christ by Neil Anderson

For several months we will center on this book to pursue Thriving in our Christian journey.

Neil challenges us with: "Do you know who you are in God's eyes? We are no longer products of our past. We are primarily products of Christ's work on the cross. Who we are determines what we do.

You are not who you are in Christ because of the things you have done, you are in Christ because of what He has done. He died and rose again so that you and I could live in the FREEDOM of His love."

That's just the introduction. More to follow.