"Listening is easy. I want to know what to say."
Those words from a frustrated student. He was exasperated with such a big emphasis on listening in care ministry. He viewed his role in ministry as talking, guiding, suggesting, counseling.
But I had to help him understand that listening is not easy.
Can you remember the last time someone really listened to you? I mean, REALLY listened to you? It doesn't happen often. When it does, it's a deep and memorable experience.
Christians tend toward being people with answers. The unkindest cuts of all are often rendered by well-meaning Christians who are intent on giving answers, providing solutions, and suggesting remedies to other Christians. They too ofter begin to give answers before knowing what the questions are!
I want to continue this topic next week, and to provide you with some helpful tips on listening. But for now, I want to emphasize the point that being caring and kind means being able to listen.
Effective listening includes watching and paying close attention to the one speaking. Seeing the quivering chin, the reddening rims of the eyes, the glint of a tear, noting the hesitations in telling their story — these are what a good listener notices.
Listening has to be intentional! It takes effort! It requires your focus! Listening is work, but it is wonderful work that blesses another person.
Proverbs 18:13 — "If one gives answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame."