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How Could Your Life Change If You Improved As A Listener?

Every person wants to be listened to, accepted, and understood. When others don’t understand us, it is usually because they have chosen not to hear us out. Not hearing people out causes massive problems that lead to a wide variety of human crises. So many problems could be mitigated in this world if people would slow down, if all of us would slow down and prioritize slow listening. Broken relationships could be mended; new relationships forged; political divides replaced with astounding unity. 

How effective of a listener are you?  Do you listen to other people with all the care that you would like to receive?  How well do you listen with discernment?  How much empathy and mercy do your listening ears have?  How long do you listen?  How quick are you to interrupt or tune out or walk away?  

Listening takes time. It requires patience. Real listening does not happen unless we humble ourselves and make space in our minds to welcome the distinctiveness of someone else’s perspective. To listen means to get past yourself and venture into the realm of looking at a matter through the eyes of another person. 

Listening is a form of here-and-now learning. It is always an act of discovery, not invention. If we decide to invent or presume that we already know what someone else is saying or is perhaps still trying to say, then we aren’t listening yet. 

To listen is to wait while actively making efforts to comprehend the intricacies of someone else’s attempt to share their point of view.  Whether we’re listening to sincere and vulnerable outpourings of another human heart or listening to insincerity fraught with trickery and guile, our same job of listening doesn’t change. It behooves us, no matter what, to listen with a filter of godliness.

Real listening is attentiveness. We have to pay attention.  We have to give up our sense of control and agree to be guided mentally by something outside ourselves. True listening calls for submission and simultaneously also for the exercise of our imagination. In order to listen, we have to engage abstract ideas or picture unfolding episodes in a story. 

Yet not all listening is the same. Some listening calls for analysis as happens with a sleuth. Some listening calls for empathy as happens with a good therapist or a good friend. Some listening calls for soulfulness as happens when we let ourselves be swept into the mystery of music.  

To listen is to be present without making your presence known. To listen is to give by allowing someone else to communicate. Listening is receiving by inviting someone else to become part of your life on their own terms.

At Right On Mission, we have a listening culture. We listen when we write your Mission, Vision, and Why Statements. We listen when we offer Consulting Services.  Through Spiritual Direction offerings, we listen to God on behalf and alongside others.  We listen to students in class, and we also offer a course called Effective Listening, which starts in early June.  I have taken the course twice so far already, but I’m going to take it again because it is taught by the very best listener whom I have ever met, and that is Dr. Lisa Orimoto, Ph.D.

If you are primed to practice listening to God, listening under pressure, and listening with more love, I encourage you to sign up right here.  Who knows?  The Lord might use you to prevent a crisis just by your own willingness to give the gift of listening to others.  For sure the Lord will grace you yourself with many gifts as you improve as a listener.

What does God want you to hear?  Listen. The heavens are pouring forth speech.

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