Easter People … are Good Listeners James 1:16-21
This week we’ve been going deeper into listening. Sunday’s message invited us to think on how well we listen to self, to others, and to God. To be intentional about listening. In James 1 verse 16 it says “…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Listening is hard work. In our study this week it was said that in order to listen well you need to shut up well. (lol) But isn’t that true. During the message Sunday we were asked to give thought to our listening minutes versus minutes you talk. We’d like to add listening versus mind wondering while someone is talking; or really listening versus already thinking on my immediate response to what is being said. This all takes discipline.
Listening to self: Sunday’s message suggested that we ask ourselves, what do I need? If we keep going a mile a minute, never slowing down, do we even know what we need? Don’t fill every minute of the day with busyness and noise. Pastor George suggested that we slow down. In his example of a cup full to the brim with water, much like our lives can get, remove some, let your cup lower, allow room for yourself. We are called to love others as yourself. Loving yourself is taking care of you and your needs so that you can be there for others when needed. The scripture passage for Sunday, James 1: 21 tells us that we are to “…receive with meekness the implanted word,” Meekness means quietness, humbly, submissiveness, compliance, fearfulness, the implanted word, means the Word, the Bible. What’s happening in my soul? It’s in the quietness that we can get a handle on the F.O.G. of life acronym that Doug Fields tells us to use. The F is for feelings – what emotions are going on inside at the moment. It can be us or it can be another. O is for others – what are we hearing from others? As to our self, or them. What others tell us about ourselves could very well be what God is trying to tell us, but we’ve been too busy to listen. Or others can confirm what we are feeling, seeking guidance from someone possibly older and wiser, to what we feel that God might be calling us to do. The G is God – are we spending some time in silence? Reading scripture? Quiet, on our own alone. We need moments of silence to hear God.
Listening to others: In our RNM video series this week we were given an opportunity to listen regarding listening. Active Listening by Bill Search means just that, active. Be there with eye contact. Don’t interrupt while the person is talking. Listen, seeking to understand. A great way show that we are listening is to ask follow-up questions to keep them talking, possibly to say it again in a different way. It will help us to understand a little bit better. Listening, by Henry Cloud, tells us to listen with humility, it’s not about me only. To care, it’s when the person talking understands that we understand. He says the first 5 minutes of your remarks will send the message of your listening. You may not have answers, for some it’s simply to know that other people know what’s on their mind. Also, we learn that it’s not always best to give a pet answer to everything. Quoting scripture, throwing out a bible verse that they need to study, pray over, as their cure-all. Winston Smith in his video of Becoming an Expert Listener, says we need to listen to understand their suffering. What are they saying? Where are they coming from? Get their suffering, show empathy, it’s a bridge from you to them to show that you understand.
We need to discipline our listening. Paying attention to old behavior patterns of interrupting or minimizing what they are saying. We may want to get on the defense when we are feeling attacked. We need to manage our reactivity as to what someone is saying. If you don’t, the consequence is that you lose. You lose the person that was talking because they are not being heard. A lack of listening creates a division. Then there won’t be any results. We need to discipline ourselves to listen. Listen to understand, then find the right time to say something.
Listening to God: It’s hearing from God. We heard during the Sunday message that it’s that voice on the inside of us. What is he saying to us? Then we need to act on what we hear. Don’t mute it, don’t turn it off, hear God’s nudges then respond, be a people who listens to the still small voice. God may be talking to us personally, or he may be talking to us to act in another person’s life. It’s our responsibility to personally submit to God’s authority. God also uses personal stories, personal struggles to minister to others. It’s our willingness to be open and honest. It’s our testament as to how God worked in our life.
Listening to God, receive with meekness the implanted word, so that we can minister to others in their time of need. To Impart grace to the need of the moment, by our discipleship, our words, our actions we impart Christlikeness. Move towards people in mercy. Connecting people to the Savior Redeemer, we Easter People, show what we know. We are to live life vertically with others and horizontally with God, showing grace, with people, with God – called Reconciliation. We as Easter People are to be better at loving people well, and better at being good listeners.
Larry & Darlene