The Lost Art of Really Listening

“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

I have this very vivid memory of a particular gym class during my elementary school years.  The physical ed. teacher declared that it was “free gym day”, which meant a bunch of high-wired kids could essentially do whatever we wanted for a whole hour.  As I’m sure you can imagine, this declaration produced not a little excitement.  Seconds later, we all looked up to find one basketball coming towards us.  The teacher then went into his office and closed the door.  (I don’t actually remember him closing the door, but he might as well have).  

One basketball?  Really?

What ensued was absolute chaos and pandemonium.  It was every kid for themselves.  No teams were organized.  No rules were arranged.  No nothing.  It was so insane and so much fun.  Kids sort of thrive in that kind of setting.

Living in today’s world can sometimes feel like being in the kind of environment experienced on so-called “free gym days”.  In an age of radical individualism in which the most pressing concerns are “What is best for me?” or “What makes me happy?”  we no longer see the value or benefit of really listening to one another, particularly when there is a preference or opinion that differs from our own.  Many professing believers, unfortunately, have adopted this same mentality as we have sought to engage the world we live in.

I do wonder if Bible-believing Christians would begin to see greater progress in terms of reaching the spiritually lost if we chose to  make an intentional effort to listen attentively to the pain, suffering and confusion that many, many unbelievers are living with every day.  Listening to people does not necessarily mean we affirm.  It may show, however, that we care.

So, here’s a question for you:  When was the last time you arranged to meet with someone with the intent of just listening to understand and show compassion?  Making such a decision could be the very thing God uses to bring someone to saving knowledge of truth.

In Him,

Pastor Mark