The question I often put to myself is not, “How many people have you spoken to about Christ this week?” but “How many people have you listened to in Christ this week?”
:: E. Peterson ::
In recent weeks, some of my parents’ friends have asked if I’m out of school yet. I’m pretty certain that this question means they think I’ve had quite enough school by now. (I agree!) I answer saying, “No, not just yet. I’m in a grad program for Clinical Mental Health.” “Like psychology?” “Yes, well, counseling.” “So, you’re in school to learn how to listen to folks?” *forced laughter* “Yes Sir/Ma’am.”
Their neutral responses in these little small-talk conversations have given me cause to evaluate what I’m doing. (Because, you know, I over think everything.) On the most basic level, am I really spending all this time to “learn how to listen”? Am I really earning a degree to work in a field that can be reduced to this?
As I traversed over these questions, that you’d think I’d already have answered, the Lord patiently walked me through and, in His grace, gave me a little insight.
Did you know that on any given day the average American spends their day in roughly this way…
That’s a lot of listening time!
So, what do we do with that?
In authentic listening we find the tools to cultivate relationships that reveal the nature of God’s patient love for us. We’re talking unhurried leisure, even for just a few moments. We might feel like leisure is impossible given our schedule, but it’s not really about a to-do list. Leisure is a state of being. In these unhurried I-value-what-you’re-saying moments the people around us understand the importance of their words to us. In a postmodern, hurried culture we can set ourselves apart by demonstrating a lifestyle that truly believes that Jesus meant what he said in Matt 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
I had an amazing youth pastor growing up and, while I’m pretty sure this didn’t originate with him, he told us that, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We love because He first loved and we listen because the God who built the universe listens to us.
I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. :: Ps 116:11
In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. :: Ps 18:6
In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. :: Ps 31:22
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. :: Jeremiah 29:12
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. :: James 1:19
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. :: Isaiah 55: 2-3
As a graduate student, let’s be honest, I’m broke. But I can give my time and, we all know that we can give of ourselves.
When we see these hurts, these longings to be known, we become responsible. More than responsible – we’re response-bound— we will make a response. As long as our hearts are beating, we can’t be unresponsive. We all look need full in the face and it’s either “Yes, I will help”. Or “No, I won’t”. A response. When we hear someone, truly hear them, knowing them and recognizing their worth as an image bearer of our God, we are compelled to act. We are called to carry the Good News to them in word and deed. That could play out in faithfully praying with them/for them, speaking with them, being an advocate, giving, or many other responses. The important thing is that we act in accordance with the Word.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. :: Colossians 3:12
Compassion in the Greek…Oiktirmós: a movement toward mercy in one’s innermost places
We are heard by our Father—>We are moved to extend this grace to others—> We hear them —>We are moved to act.
So, from now on, every time a
real grownup friend of my parents asks why I’m going to school to learn how to listen I’ll send them a link to this post….Or maybe not.