Part of being a Christian is being an intentional listener—someone who takes in what other people are saying, and takes time to listen to God, too. It may sound straightforward, but we've learned it's often more difficult than it seems. In this modern era with so much digital distraction and busy schedules, we've seemed to have lost the art of listening well. Our pace has become so frenzied, our daily schedules so filled, that we quickly move from one thing to the next, without giving much thought to it. Today, we want to slow things down a bit and share what we've learned about being a thoughtful listener.
Here are a few things that have surprised us when it comes to being an attentive listener—as Jesus was!
1. It's Surprisingly Simple
"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." ~ James 1:19
This verse from James is a popular one for a reason! We'd like to believe this is how Jesus lived, too. We can envision Jesus being the epitome of a peaceful presence, thoughtfully listening to those who approach Him. In short, Jesus lived a slowed-down life. While He surely accomplished many amazing miracles with His time here on Earth, He didn't rush His way through the day. When you go through the Gospels, you'll notice how Jesus reacts to spur-of-the-moment inquiries. Think of the woman who reaches out to Him because she's been bleeding for years or the little children who come to Him. He's never annoyed or rushed. In fact, He often rebukes His disciples for trying to keep Him on schedule!
We can apply this to our lives, too. To be a thoughtful listener is to be someone of deep inner peace, and takes things a bit slower than normal. When you move intentionally throughout the day, you have more time for those impromptu meetings or calls you get. You have more grace for the people in your life, whether that be your coworkers or your loved ones. Part of this has to do with time management and how we schedule our day, but another big piece of this is spending time in prayer, and asking God to help us become people of deep peace. When we ask God to show us the way forward, He answers. When we ask Him to become more peaceful and grace-filled, that will automatically influence how we treat others and give them our attention.
2. There Is Power in Silence
"He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." ~ Luke 11:28
Sometimes the best thing you can do is to say nothing at all. Have you heard that before? There's an element of truth to it. Listening can be a powerful tool in and of itself. For starters, think of your relationship with God. While He certainly wants us to speak with Him and send up our prayers and petitions, there is something to be said for having a silent prayer time. Some people call this contemplative prayer or a solitude practice. The focus here is to open yourself up to whatever the Holy Spirit has for you. Sometimes, we just need to quiet down our minds and listen! God's voice is often soft and we only need to slow down and make time for Him in order to determine what He's saying to us.
When we apply this to our relationships, this plays an important role as well. Being a thoughtful listener is about suspending judgment for the time being and letting the other person share their true thoughts and feelings. Just as there is a time for action, there is a time to just be silent, too. Many times, our friends just need someone to vent to—especially if they're going through a hard time. This also applies to our conversations with people who are very different than us, too. Think of Jesus sharing a meal with tax collectors and prostitutes. Each party was an outcast because they could not hide their sin, as others often can. This drew Jesus to them, as He famously said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God." In other words, these people know they've sinned, and recognize their deep need for Jesus. The tax collectors and prostitutes Jesus encounters in the Bible are often elated to see Him.
We can envision Jesus sharing some words of truth and encouragement, while also listening to their stories, too. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do, as a friend or a stranger, is to listen to them. Show them you care by giving them your attention. This simple thing is a beautiful and profound act of love, and it's a way we can go out into the world and love those we encounter in our day-to-day life, too.
A Helpful Reminder
We hope and pray this blog post served you today, and that it gives you the courage you need to be a thoughtful listener this week! It's not always easy, and there's no exact formula, but just know that sometimes the best gift you can give to a brother or sister in Christ is to lend a listening ear. If you're looking for more reminders of Godly wisdom, check out our selection of Christian apparel, with collections featuring some of your favorite verses and imagery as a reminder of how great our God is!