â€œAre you listening to me?â€ Has someone ever asked you that question? Or maybe that thought pierced your heart and mind, as you felt the sting of someone else ignoring or rejecting you?
Consider these four ways to improve your listening skills.
- Resolve to be quick to listen. Many times, people who come to us for help, just need for us to listen.Â James 1:19 offers this advice, “Understand this â€¦ You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (NLT). Â Â
- Â Decide to be available. Jesus gives us an example of a wise counselor who made Himself available to listen. â€œThe apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taughtâ€ (Matt. 6:30).Â Â
- Â Desire a discerning heart. Not only does Jesus listen, He discerned the needs of others. When His disciples came to Him after their ministry tour, Jesus observes their need for solitude and rest: â€œLetâ€™s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhileâ€ (ibid.).Â Â Â
- Â Choose to be quiet. Jesus also taught His disciples the importance of being quiet. In Matthew 11:15, Jesus asks his disciples, “Are you listening to me? Really listening? (MSG)Â Â
At times our failure to listen before responding can provoke a negative, emotional response from our loved ones or friends, who may need our help.Â In fact, Proverbs 18:13 warns us, “Answering before listening is both stupid and rude” (MSG).
What can we offer others with our response, after we listen to their needs?
- Grace, not criticism or judgment. Romans 2:4 reminds us,Â “Donâ€™t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Canâ€™t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (NLT)
- Companionship. We must encourage others to be dependent upon Jesus, not co-dependent upon us. Jesus promised His followers, “I’ll be with you â€¦ day after day after day, right up to the end of this age” (Matt. 28:20 MSG).
So, the next time someone comes to you for help, I hope you ask yourself this question first: â€œAre you listening â€¦ Really listening?â€ (Matt. 11:15)