There have been conversations over coffee and conversations over cake and lots of conversations standing in the isles at church and I keep noticing something going wrong in my heart.
I love to talk.
I love to share what I’m thinking and feeling and learning.
I love to relate things to my own experiences and to weave words together until they wrap into a grand lesson or story or tale of life lived.
But there is wisdom to be found if you’re looking and as I’ve looked I keep finding this wisdom.
Be quiet and listen.
I’ve heard it whispered and preached and I’ve seen it written down over and over by people much wiser than myself, and every time it cuts me deep. Because I’m not good at listening.
So often when you’re talking I’m listening not to fully hear and appreciate the words you’re speaking, but I’m listening to think of how your words relate to me. I’m listening to think of what story or experience I have that relates to you instead of just listening to your story.
I’m listening selfishly.
I’m listening because I want to tell you about me.
I’m listening because I want to share what God has taught me.
I’m listening because…me.
Because I sometimes think that my stories and my life will help you and teach you and encourage you…but that’s not true.
People need Jesus, not me.
I so often want to be the one to say something that makes all the difference, when most often what makes the difference is that I was quiet and listened.
I’m learning to bite my tongue and check my heart…to be quiet and listen.
Because real listening looks so different than we think.
It looks like…
Really, truly caring. Caring about who they are and what they have to say and really listening to the words they choose to express the pain they are going through, not rushing in to label and categorize their hurt with your own words. Caring about the joy they are experiencing and they blessings they are receiving and not rushing on to the fact that you wish something good would happen to you.
Want to know. Really truly want to know how it feels and why it feels that way. Ask questions. Good questions. Hard questions. Deep questions. And then let them talk through those deep places of their heart and often they’ll talk themselves into a place of healing.
While they talk, you silently, simply seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Because we don’t have the perspective of heaven, but that’s the perspective people need.
Give them Jesus:
Because the only One who has truly born our sorrows and carried our griefs is the Son of Man. And anything good we have to offer is merely a gift He’s given us. So don’t give them you and I won’t give them me…let’s give them Jesus.
And my pastor said it so well, “All I know how to do is give people Jesus, because He can change them.”
That’s what I want. That’s the goal of good listening: to love them where they are at and then to give them Jesus. Not me.
How is God teaching you to be a be quiet and listen? Have you struggled in this area? What area from above can you improve in?