Learn to Listen
We are supposed to be living in an age of communication. Satellites are in our skies, reflecting words and pictures to radios and television sets. We send countless emails, text messages and post on social media, and human voices fill the air in a ceaseless drone.
The effective speaker is a powerful person in today's society, and communication is lauded as a panacea for many of our problems. So, we are encouraged to improve our abilities to get our point across and effectively state and support our position.
It is good to be able to articulate our views, but there is another communication skill that is equal in value and vital to the worlds well being, one that is very often lost in the babble of voices wanting to be heard. This is the priceless art of listening.
The listening that we have become accustom to today is often a faint shadow of the real thing. Because there are so many voices and sounds that clamor for our attention, we have learned to turn a semi deaf ear to much of what we hear.
Effective listening, of course, is more than just being quiet. If it is done well, it is an active and demanding spiritual labor. To listen well demands our full attention not only to words but to the inflections, expressions, body movements, the things left unsaid, and any other signals the person may be sending out.
Effective listening requires empathy, the ability to put ourselves in the position of those who are speaking to us, to feel as they feel.
Good listening demands understanding of others, their desires, their hopes, fears and problems. We are always so quick to judge and slow to understand.
Real listening would work miracles in this troubled world. If parents listened more to children and children to parents; of the troubled and forlorn among us could find a sympathetic ear; of nations would stop hollering and threatening and listen to the heartfelt yearnings of each other's people - how different this world might be.
Perhaps in nothing do we need to learn and listen than in our prayer. We cry unto the Lord, and then we cut off the communication, assuming that the prayer is over. But it may only have just begun. King David sang such a prayer. He piled on praise and sang unto the Lord until a voice came to his heart and said, "Be still, and know that I am God". (Psalm 46:10) That is good counsel yet!
Those who listen well will hear this comforting assurance and know that He is always there and always looking over us.
Pastor Hans Lillejord