We live in a world that is divided. We live in societies that do not reach out to the isolated. The greatest spiritual need of today is connection. It begins by hearing the story of others.
Kyle Blevins outlines the importance of listening to others, and the power it has to make a difference. Here’s what he writes:
Listening is one of the most fruitful ways to help someone but is also among the most underused skills. Couple that with our current culture’s awareness of offending others and we have effectively talked ourselves out of connecting with people when they may need it most. But do we recognize the kind of opportunity we are letting go?
1. Listening makes people feel important.
Listening makes people feel important. When people get angry in arguments, it is likely because they don’t feel heard or important. This translates to “I am not important.” This welcomes fear, which welcomes anger, thus how many arguments are born. Arguing often crowds out what is really going on as we start working through trivial disagreements. Once you start listening intently, the fight to be in the number one spot is no longer needed and a way has been made for the real problem to come out.
2. Listening offers acceptance.
Listening intently has a goal of understanding, while hearing to identify problems has a goal of “fixing” things. That goal of understanding translates into acceptance. It tells people “I want to understand you more, because I care.” This makes people feel like they can share things with you without being judged. Jesus’ act at Calvary gave us the same level of acceptance. His actions told us “I know what you have done, but I still love you.”
3. Listening makes everyone look deeper.
Just like there are powers that work against us in this world, there are misconceptions about what the root of an issue really is. Listening brings clarity and helps everyone involved look deeper. Once people feel important and accepted, they tend to explore their hearts more in depth. On the listener end, we also look deeper by continuing to support people in opening up.
4. Listening promotes humility.
As listeners, our humility is exercised. Our pride breaks as we take our “fixing” hat off and just open our hearts. We hear the hearts of people rather than the echo of our own accomplishments or abilities. Humility is in the foundation of love.
5. Listening restores hope.
We live in a world full of negative news and selfishness being promoted. Someone taking time to put another person in front of themselves shines brighter now than perhaps ever before. Trust is not easily granted today, but someone that quietens themselves for the sake of helping another restores a hopeful image of humanity for at least one person.
6. Listening brings healing.
Once someone feels truly listened to, they feel accepted and that you can be trusted. As a result, people dig deeper and reveal more and more to the light. You have a special opportunity here to foster a healing environment through listening. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” It feels so freeing to get darkness out and there is healing in confession to each other as well as to God. We have all needed this at times in our lives, so we have and understand what it takes to offer that same help in listening.
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