Last weekend, Findlay Campus Pastor Chris Baney led a discussion with a panel of parents who offered their wisdom specific to various family phases. What a wealth of information! The discussion about the art of listening hit me hard. As often happens, my thoughts turned to my unfulfilled wish that I had known, better understood, and practiced the art of listening. Undoubtedly, it would have served me in meaningful ways in multiple relationships over the years. Possibly you can relate to this same harsh reality.
If a redo in life was possible, I would have made a point of becoming a better listener. As I reflect, decades ago, when one Christian friend reached deep into my heart and soul by engaging in the simple (but challenging) act of listening to comments I shared in an adult Sunday school class, I sincerely regret not intentionally developing that skill.
To this day, it moves me when I recall that encounter. The genuine care and concern exhibited by his words were undeniable. He listened to my words with his heart. Consequently, he took what I shared and made them a matter of weekly prayer alongside his wife! Now, there is a gift you cannot buy at the store or purchase online! To receive such a gift is beyond description. In retrospect, it is now clear that offering such a gift is similarly beyond description!
How different would our immediate families be if we decided to give the gift of listening to one another—even to the ones with the innate ability to push our buttons? Engaging in healthy dialog truly takes effort, but it is so worth it! In an emotionally healthy family, kids (young and old alike) know it is safe to come to us about anything—no matter the topic! Requesting feedback is never without merit, nor is asking: “What do you think?” “Where are you at with it?” “What is your goal?”
Be encouraged—having difficulty listening is not a new problem! And having listening difficulties is not going away anytime soon. But the good news remains: “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31b). As we lean into him, he welcomes us and offers his strength to us. So, give the gift quickly, as James suggests: “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).
Do you consider yourself a good listener? Would your closest associates consider you a good listener? Do you step into intentionally listening when others speak? Do you find yourself frustrated by not being heard when you speak? Have you experienced really being heard?
Reflect on recent verbal interactions. Identify both strengths and weaknesses exhibited by others when conversing with you. Identify both strengths and weaknesses exhibited by you when conversing with others. Identify steps you can take to become a better listener. Ask God to reveal areas of brokenness that may possibly be making it difficult for you to really listen to others.
Check out more family hacks from the weekend panel.
How to Parent Through Conflict and Lead Your Family Spiritually?
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your great patience with me as I uncover yet another area of weakness in my character. Thank you for not condemning me in these areas. Thank you for the opportunity to improve my interactions with others—particularly becoming a better listener. Please empower me with your strength in applying the powerful healing salve of your word to the broken areas buried in my soul. May your power in me push aside my own thoughts and my own agendas when others communicate. Help me to always communicate to others that they matter to you and that they matter to me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married over forty years. Karen rejoices over God’s faithfulness and God’s patience in her life and in her marriage. Nothing matters more to Karen than her relationship with God and her entire family. Her immeasurable faith in Christ and His ability to restore the broken runs deep within.
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