Are You A Good Listener?
Webster defines a listener as “one who listens to someone…who listens attentively and sympathetically.” So, a listener listens, right? That is logical, but let’s take it a step further. The word, listen, means “to hear something with thoughtful attention; to give consideration.” Therefore, the definition of a Good Listener could be stated as “One who intentionally and compassionately gives their full attention to another who is speaking.”
That is easier said than done - with or without any distractions or noises nearby.
Fulfilling those qualities takes focused energy and a lot of self-control no matter who is doing the speaking. Human nature is constantly at war with us. It is hard to slow down at a moment's notice so that we can truly listen to another. Proverbs 18:13 says “He who answers before listening - that is his folly and his shame.” We’re all guilty. Even if we have the self-control not to interrupt the speaker, we have often figured out our response before the speaker has even had a chance to finish up their thought. It’s so tempting to interject some commentary or jump to a conclusion before all the facts have been presented.
And we hate it when others do that to us, right?
We can tell when we are being listened to. There is eye contact. There is interest shown. There might even be an occasional nod or murmur of affirmation. But, when the listener's eyes begin to dart around or when the speaker asks a question but doesn’t give time to hear an answer you know there is no active listening going on. Speaking comes naturally for most. Listening is often a learned quality.
Proverbs 18:15 teaches us that “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” Our motivation in listening is key. Do we really want to understand where others are coming from? Do we want to know what they are passionate about (be that for good or bad), or would we rather expound on how their situation relates to our own experiences? Are we willing to put in the effort to seek out what others are truly concerned about? Or, would we rather voice our own opinion?
Be honest with yourself now. Are you a good listener?
- To your children
- To your spouse
- To your boss
- To your neighbor
- To your co-worker
- To your sister
- To your mother
- To your church family
It may take some introspection this week. Or, you may want to approach those you know well and simply ask them, “Am I a good listener?”
Why does it matter?
Because of the truth found in this simple quote - “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” (Theodore Roosevelt) How can we effectively share the Gospel message with others if we don’t truly listen to the hearts of those around us. How can we give wise counsel or pray effectively if we really haven’t taken the time to understand the burdens and concerns of others?
When was the last time you stopped everything and truly gave someone – even God - your listening ear?
May we be women of listening ears. May we not only listen for your voice but also to the voices of those you put in our paths. May we have the strength to stop and listen, truly listen to others' fears, frustrations, hopes and dreams. May we hear your voice above all the noisy distractions of our daily lives. May we see those who need a listening ear and find a time when we can show them that we truly do care. May our words be few and our hearts be overflowing with generosity to truly listen to another. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for having your ear tuned to our cries. Have mercy and compassion on us in our weaknesses. Give us strength to love others as you have loved us. Amen.