Sunday, September 21, 2008

Listening III: Merciful Gift of Earnest Hearing

"There is a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes already to know what the other person has to say. It is an impatient, inattentive listening, that despises the brother and is only waiting for a chance to speak and thus get rid of the other person. This is no fulfillment of our obligation, and it is certain that here to our attitude toward our brother only reflects our relationship to God. It is little wonder that we are no longer capable of the greatest service of listening that God has committed to us, that of hearing our brother's confession, if we refuse to give ear to our brother on lesser subjects." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p.98

As I have studied listening I agree with Dietrich Bonhoeffer listening with full attention is fulfilling our commitment to "love others as we love ourselves." Thriving as Christians depends on healthy interactions between our family members, friends and fellow church members. As I look over the following verses I am reminded of good listeners.

"He that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:8)

"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." (Matthew 5:7)

"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2)

Today I had a friend call me while I was dressing for an important church meeting. I was not in charge but it was important for me to attend. What to do? Tell my distraught friend that I would call her later, or risk being late to the meeting. I chose the embarrassment of walking in ten minutes late. I know I pleased God in that decision because this friend has never been in this much pain before. As I listened and then responded she came to herself. Slowly she made a plan to get through the next few days. She cried and poured her heart out. I listened. Then we prayed together. She was able to hear herself talk and "see" her way in Christ through this crisis. My input was mostly listening and commenting in agreement with her. She had her answers within her, but she needed a caring listener.

Send in a comment on truths you have on listening. I am gathering information on this subject because it is so dear to my heart: as a listener and as one who needs to be heard.


Dorothy Champagne said...

Listeners only remember 50% of what is said when they walk away from a conversation. Two days later, they only remember 25% of what was said. Through having better listening skills - we can change this average. Can you imagine how wonderful someone feels if you go to talk to them and you can recall most of what they had told you previously and be able to ask how they are doing with each item that was mentioned. Sometimes, I'm doing good to remember someone's name when introduced. Listening is such an important skill to have - and one that can mean the world to someone else, just like you mentioned here Kay.

Marilyn in Mississippi said...

I am so ashamed and embarrassed to say that the quote in your post, "It is an impatient, inattentive listening, that despises the brother and is only waiting for a chance to speak and thus get rid of the other person." made me stop and think how very often I do that very thing! So sad to realize how selfish I can be! Thanks so much for this reminder!

Your posts have brought so much truth to me since I have been reading them!


Starr said...

Listening is the single most important thing we can do for a friend. Very seldom do I have the answers, but I CAN always listen to them and help them through their pain.

I was convicted a little by the first few lines of your post, because, sadly, I do that to my kids sometimes. I will be busy and they will want to talk my ears off, and I half-way listen to them. I am going to strive to do better in that arena. Thanks for reminding me that I need to get better at listening to my immediate family just as much as I do my friends.
Love ya,

© 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.