BE­ING A GOOD LIS­TENER

Activated - - NEWS - Shan­non Shayler and Keith Phillips, adapted Shan­non Shayler and Keith Phillips, One Heart at a Time (Aurora Pro­duc­tion, 2010), adapted.

Good lis­ten­ing takes ef­fort. No­tice the traits of the peo­ple whom you en­joy talk­ing to, the good lis­ten­ers. They show their in­ter­est with their eyes, pos­ture, and the ways they re­act. It’s a sort of in­de­scrib­able mood that says, I en­joy lis­ten­ing to you. You’re im­por­tant to me. A calm­ness and pa­tience about them tells you, Take your time. I have noth­ing more vi­tal to do at the mo­ment than to hear what you have to say.

Lis­ten­ing is one way to bet­ter ful­fill the “law of Christ,” which the Bi­ble sums up as “lov­ing your neigh­bor as your­self.” By lis­ten­ing to

1 oth­ers in or­der to un­der­stand them, we are do­ing God’s work with a form of God’s love.

Take a les­son from Je­sus. When you take your prob­lems to Him in prayer, does He just lis­ten for a mo­ment and then in­ter­rupt? Rarely. He’s al­ways there, al­ways avail­able, and al­ways ready to hear you out—to lis­ten to your side of the story. He gets down on your level. He lis­tens care­fully to your words, but He also hears the muf­fled cries of your heart. You know He un­der­stands.

Je­sus looks at your mo­tives, not at what­ever mis­takes or messes you may have made. He’s never harsh or con­demn­ing. He al­ways holds out mercy and hope and for­give­ness. No mat­ter how far you’ve strayed, He never stops lov­ing you.

Lis­ten­ing—re­ally lis­ten­ing—con­veys love. It con­veys not only your love, but also the Lord’s love for the per­son, which is un­con­di­tional, for­ever, and per­fect in ev­ery way. Let oth­ers see Je­sus in you by try­ing to be as lov­ing a lis­tener as He is, and you won’t have a hard time win­ning their hearts to Him.

Lis­ten­ing also has this im­por­tant side ef­fect: Once you’ve shown your­self to be a good lis­tener, oth­ers are more likely to be more in­ter­ested in and re­cep­tive to what you have to say when it’s your turn to talk. They’ll be less de­fen­sive and more open to new ideas and views, and they will be more un­der­stand­ing them­selves.

Lis­ten­ing is a tal­ent that can be cul­ti­vated. It be­gins with a sin­cere de­sire to un­der­stand oth­ers in or­der to bet­ter love and help them. Ask Je­sus for the gift of em­pa­thy, and then ask Him to help you learn to put it to good use help­ing oth­ers and lov­ing them into His heav­enly king­dom.

1. Gala­tians 5:14; Matthew 22:37–39

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