Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Art of Listening

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone, only to get the feeling they weren't really listening? Oh they might be able to repeat almost every word you said, but it was obvious they were not actually taking in the thoughts you were trying to express.   That is usually the type of person who prefers doing most of the talking and expressing his ideas and opinions at the exclusion of yours. There might be some label to put on someone like that, but usually the root of the problem is the person is too full of himself. 

I suppose it goes along with the job, but many preachers and teachers of the Word fall into that category, some to a greater degree than others. It is not surprising that there are classes taught in most seminaries on the art of listening.  While the person holding the position of doing most of the teaching to a church is energetic and enthusiastic about sharing the message, there is also a great need for the pulpit professionals to know how to listen to the people they teach. 

In conversations with our coworkers, our children, our spouse, our friends and even our neighbors, we need to cultivate the art of being a good listener.  We miss out on many close relationships that would be a benefit to the church and to us as individuals when we fail to listen. 

The Word of God, the Bible, is the primary means of God speaking to us and making his will known. The book of Hebrews opens with these words, "In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe."

Luke's gospel gives the story of the events on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus took Peter, James and John with him up on the mountain. While they were there, the appearance of Jesus changed, and his clothing became as bright as lightning. Also appearing with Jesus were Moses and Elijah.  Immediately Peter blurted out, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” A cloud appeared over the mountain, and then a voice from the cloud spoke, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”  When the voice had stopped, Jesus was the only one remaining there with Peter, James and John. Lots of lessons and messages can come from that event but the basic one we need to understand is that God is placing his stamp of approval on Jesus by saying, "He is the one you need to listen to!"

Earlier, we talked of the frustration of trying to talk to people who hear us, but do not listen.  Now we find the same problem can happen and result in hearing but not listening to God's word.  If you think it's frustrating to you, can you imagine how we make God feel when he is attempting share with us the words of life? 

 What is God trying to say to you right now?  Could it be a verse or a command that you have read or heard hundreds of times, but really never listened?  Staying close to the word will bring new horizons to your relationship with the Father. 


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