He Who Has Ears To Hear
Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]; James 1:19 (Amplified Bible, AMP)
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find people who are good listeners. Even in Christian circles, many of us are so self-focused that we pay little attention to what others tell us. We prefer to talk about ourselves instead; what our children are doing, how our jobs are going, what our latest achievement or struggle is. And things like social media have made it worse. We assume everyone wants to know all about us simply because we can post photos about ourselves and our loved ones on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.
Ask yourself a few questions to gauge if you are a good listener.
After people talk to me, will I remember enough about what they said to be able to ask them about it next time we meet?
Do I focus on what people are telling me or am I thinking about what I want to say when it is my turn to speak?
Am I sincerely interested in other people and their lives?
I would encourage each of you to adjust how you appraoch converations with others. Really listen to what they are saying. Do not allow your mind to wander. Don’t act like you are in a hurry to move on from the conversation- really give them your time and attention. Ask questions and make meaningful comments in response to what they tell you. Make a mental note of things to say to them next time you see them so they know you remembered what they told you. It seems like a small thing, but it means so much to people when they realize you actually heard what they said and are concerned enough to ask them about it later. It might be something as simple as asking them how their children are, or you might ask them about a health issue they mentioned. It is not difficult to be a good listener. It just requires getting our minds off ourselves for a change.
Genuinely listening and caring for others is a ministry to which we have all been called. It is an easy way to demonstrate to people that they are valuable.