Are You Actively Listening?
Written by: Sis. Crystal Hendricks
Scripture of Focus: James 1:19
Have you ever had someone ask you…”? Are you listening…Did you hear me?” and you quickly reply, “yes, I’m listening”, when in fact your mind started out listening and then ventured off someplace else; or you heard the first part of what they were saying and started getting your response or comment ready; so were you really listening, or just hearing?
In God’s infinite wisdom and perfect design, he gave us 2 ears that are one of the few body parts that continually grow throughout our lifetime. Do you think God was trying to tell us something?
The valuable, but least thought about art of actively listening can be had to do, especially for us women. We usually have so many plates spinning in the air that we feel that we don’t have the time to devote to actively listening; never mind listening to someone’s complete thought. As women, we are always on alert to solve problems, fix things, staying one step ahead with an answer (even if we are not asked the question); so are we really actively listening?
Have you ever wished after a conversation with a friend, that you had not given some unasked for advice? Your friend just needed a listening ear, but you attempted to fix her problem instead. It was like we was the fool spoken about in Proverbs 18:2, no delight in understanding, but expressing our opinion; we weren’t actively listening.
Albeit had at times, we need to consciously reflect on James 1:19,” Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak.”
God is always telling us to listen…be still… Be quiet; as in Psalms 46:10 where it says…” Be still and know that I am God”. Be quiet, like in 1 Thess 4:11 “and that ye study to be quiet.”
A still and quiet spirit helps us hear what God has to tell us; to guide us. When life is loud; outside and in our minds, it’s hard to hear and nearly impossible to actively listen to what the speaker is trying to relay.
We find that Jesus perfectly mastered the art of actively listening.
An example of this is with the woman at the well in John 4. He actively listened to her, her concerns, her shame and responded to her with love. Or, like in Matt16:13-16, where Jesus posed questions to the disciples; “Who do you say that I am?”, so he can listen to their answers.
Jesus was also engaged in the listening (one of the many reasons of why it’s called active listening), he stayed in the moment, let people get close to him, and let them know that they mattered. He didn’t let busyness keep him from listening. He took time to STOP and Listen, even when in route; like in Mark 5:22-34, when he was on his way to heal Jarus’s daughter and when he felt virtue leave from him, stopped and listened to the woman who had touched the hem of his garment.
To actively listen as Jesus did, we too need to remember that listening is a privilege; someone wants to share their thoughts with you, and you have to be patient enough to hear what’s inside. The purpose of a person’s heart are deep waters, but a man with understand draws it out (Proverbs 20:5).
One way to know you are actively listening is that you are responding, be it in thought or deed, otherwise, you are just hearing. Listening always requires a response, just like in the examples previously given. Some of the key elements of actively listening that Jesus shows us make up the word LISTEN. L=love, I=inquire, S=stop, T=test, E=engage and N=nudge.
Imagine some of the things we would miss out on if we didn’t just listen or better yet actively listen. Our shepards call…My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me (John 10:27). Our Faith… Faith cometh by hearing and the hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17). Wisdom… Listen to counsel, that thou mayest be wise in the latter end (Prov 19:20).
Learning to actively listen takes time and practice. When we learn to listen to God though his word, it makes it easier to actively listen to people around us. Don’t be afraid to sit in silence before the Lord while reading his words. Letting them Love, Inquire, Stop, Test, Engage and Nudge you. He will speak softly to your heart. He will impart truth to your soul. He will guide you on the path you should take.
I have a saying above my desk that says… Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you. If you don’t listen to the little stuff while they’re little; they won’t tell you the BIG stuff when they’re big; because to them, it has ALWAYS been BIG STUFF.
That’s why I’m thankful for having this opportunity to study on this topic.
During the last few months, because of the pandemic (maybe before), I have not been actively listening to my kids (and most likely others too). I thought I was, but after looking at Jesus’s examples and how God listens to ME…. I wasn’t. I was hearing and sometimes listening, but not actively listening.
I didn’t always respond to them with love; I didn’t inquire about the topics they were telling me about, to let them know that I cared about what they were saying. I didn’t stop what I was doing; I spoke to them while I was doing something else. I didn’t test them to make sure I was understanding what they were trying to tell me. I wasn’t engaged, a lot of the time there was little eye contact and they talked to my back; and I didn’t give the nudge that they might have needed to remedy their concern or to provide comfort.
This study has given me focus back on James 1:19, so I can be swift to hear…..and slow to speak, and have me realize that I should be actively listening to people, like God actively listens to me.
I love the Lord because he hath heard my voice and supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live (Psalms 116:1-2)
God is always speaking, but remains unheard until we listen….
Psalm 81:8 “Hear, O my people, and I will admonish you; O Israel, if you would just listen to Me!”
Sis. Crystal Hendricks