Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Art of Listening by Martin Wiles

John* couldn’t believe his ears. Sure enough, the same question was pummeling towards him. 

John was a teacher and loved his job. The kids kept him on his toes and young at heart. But they had one tendency that ruffled his feathers and baffled his wits. 

“Students, today I want you to write a 100 word paragraph on your favorite subject. It should be double spaced, 12 font, and Times New Roman style.”

One minute later: “Mr. Stevens, what if my paragraph is only 85 words?”

Mr. Stevens, “Your paragraph must be at least 95 words and no more than 115.”

One second later: “Mr. Stevens, what if my paragraph is only 85 words?”

Mr. Stevens, “Where were you when I just answered that question?”

Not listening must have been an issue in the first century as well causing James to write, Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (James 1:19 NLT)

Listening is art I must master. Just because I hear someone speaking doesn’t mean I’m listening to what they say. Looking someone in the eye as they talk to me helps train my focus on truly hearing what they say. The same is true as it relates to listening to God. I must listen intently to what his Word says as I read it.

When I’m quick to listen to others, I relay the impression that I don’t think my ideas are more important than theirs—and they aren’t. I’ll not think about what I’m going to say while they’re speaking. 

Being slow to speak and quick to listen also assists with controlling anger. Having a quick temper will lead me to speak before I think. And to say things better left unsaid. 

Master the art of listening—to God and others. Give them priority over yourself.

Prayer: Merciful Lord Jesus, teach us to listen to You and others the way You listen to us. 
*Name changed to protect the individual’s privacy.

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