Covenant Weekly - May 15, 2018

Covenant Weekly - May 15, 2018

This is a summary of something I've been working through with different classes during a Christian Education component I have the privilege of leading at a local school.

How well do you listen? Below is a video with 22 sounds played in about 4 1/2 minutes. Most of the sounds are things you will have heard, but how many can you identify out of context?

Most of the people I go through this with can recognize the sounds after knowing what it is, but very few get over 50% of the sounds correct by just remembering what they have listened to before.

The Bible is full of wisdom regarding the importance of listening. Consider these verses:

  • Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry. (James 1:19)
  • My child, pay attention to my wisdom; turn your ear to my understanding, that you may remain discreet, and your lips may guard knowledge. (Proverbs 5:1)
  • If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. (Proverbs 18:13)
  • The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)
  • Cease to hear instruction, my child, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. (Proverbs 19:27)
  • Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. (Proverbs 17:28)

I won't unpack each verse separately, but wisdom tells us that listening does several things:

  1. It helps us to not make a fool of ourselves.
  2. It helps us to gain knowledge.
  3. It helps us to grow as a person.
  4. It helps to minimize conflict between people.

I know how easy it is to hear part of what someone has to say and then tune out the rest because I'm already thinking about what I want to say in return. I know how hard it is to not jump to conclusions, get defensive, and think I know better. Intentional listening can help that.

Here are a few basic tips to help you (and me) listen. Many of them are common sense, but sometimes it is hard to follow common sense!

  • Stop talking/making your own sound
  • Pay careful attention
    • Eye contact - look at the person you're listening to
    • Body posture - turn your body towards them
  • Clarify understanding
    • Repeat back what you heard - active listening ("What I hear you saying is . . .. Is that correct?)
    • Ask questions for clarification (Can I just make sure I understand what you are saying?)

I can tell you that when I walk through this with elementary school teachers they are extremely grateful. I get the kids imagining what it would be like to have people truly listening to each other in the classroom and in the yard.

But what would it look like for you, parents, if your children listened in this way to you? Perhaps more importantly, what it would it look like for your children if you listened in this way to them?

Spouses . . . is there anything here that can help you listen well to each other?

Employers? Employees? Neighbours? Friends?

What could we do, as a church, to show love and care for people by really and truly listening to them instead of just trying to get better at talking at them?

Don't get me wrong . . . I'm not good at this yet! But I'm getting better and every time I stop talking, pay attention, and truly listen I sense that there is a little more peace in the world and Jesus love is a little more on display.