Are You a Good Listener? — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Are You a Good Listener? — Morning Devotions

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19

By Chris WittsWednesday 1 Nov 2023Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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Are you a good listener now? I think this is an important topic. Many people say “you weren’t listening to what I said.” I like the young mother I heard of the other day. It was one of those days. She was run off her feet, looking after the three young Children who had measles. The phone rang, and the caller wanted to speak to her husband while he wasn’t home.

The caller asked “How are you going?” And she said, rather impatiently, “I’m overwhelmed. The three kids are sick.” And then he replied, “I’m so glad that you’re all well.” She knew that instant that he didn’t listen to a word she said. He just hadn’t listened. I think this is a situation that happens many times. How good a listener are you? Do you ask a question of someone and then tune out before the answer comes. It can be very annoying, sometimes insulting.

It does take effort to listen well, and it’s a real art

To become a good listener, you’ve got to work at it. Why is it important? Because it means you show that people matter to you, that your story is important and you’re not wasting my time.

Stephen Covey was an American author and speaker. One of his most popular books sold around the world, was ‘The seven habits of highly effective people‘. And Stephen Covey, who made a lot of sense once said, “Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.”

And when I think about that, I think he was correct. Think about when you listen to somebody. Are you thinking about you and how you’re going to give the most intelligent or logical reply? Or are you actually hearing what that person is trying to say?

When we sit with someone in their distress by not replying straight away, we show them that it’s OK, that we can cope with them, and that person that you’re talking to should feel they’re the only person in the world, and only then, of course, will they have your full attention.

There are plenty of talkers in this world. The Bible has an interesting story in Luke, Chapter 10, and you can have a read of it of two people Mary and Martha, who are sisters and Jesus. It’s a good lesson in the importance of listening. And when Jesus went to visit their home in Bethany, Martha flew into the kitchen to work while Mary sat down at the feet of Jesus and listened to his teaching.

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So I guess the pressure was on Jesus, and he needed to talk as well as teach. Time was running out for his ministry. His enemies were closing in, and here that day we find Jesus in a quiet home with his friends. He wanted to be with them. I guess he needed their love and understanding. And no wonder that he praised Mary when Mary got into trouble for ‘wasting time’ by sitting with Jesus and not helping with the chores.

Hang on a moment. Mary has chosen the right thing, and that was listening to him.

It’s harder to listen than it is to talk

Communication is a skill. I think we learn from infancy. I’ve noticed that some people are better at listening than others. Some just talk too much, and if we were really honest, we would admit it’s much easier to talk than listen. There are a lot of books written about this, and they all mention one word, and that’s – empathy. Being able to feel another person’s situation as you listen to them, it’s letting them know that you do understand. It’s an art, but talking is only part of it. Silence, and that can be very uncomfortable. But silence can be more refreshing than talk. If we talk on and on, we can’t really know what that other person is thinking or how they feel.

So in conversation, focus your attention on that person. Resist the temptation to jingle your keys in your pocket or look at the clock all the time and ask yourself some questions. Do I have a need to speak all the time instead of listening? Do I have a need to give advice? Why do I have to interpret their behaviour based on my motives?

And if you want to improve your skills, have a listen to what God’s word says in James 1:19, James said. Take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen slow to speak. Great advice. It’s got the touch of God in it. Try to understand that person and develop a total awareness of him or her and concentrate on what they’re saying. Don’t interrupt. Put aside your preconceptions. Don’t prejudge, try and focus on the feelings that lie beneath the words and listen with your eyes and ears and give them that non-judgmental acceptance. Don’t be afraid of silence.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, we know that’s great advice. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Forgive me, dear Lord, for the many times that I have rushed in to give my opinion instead of standing back and letting the other person talk to me so that I can really hear and have understanding and empathy for that person. Because, Lord, there are many people in our great cities who need someone to listen to them, make me a good listener. I pray in the name of Jesus, amen.