One of my favorite people to talk to when I want someone to listen is my Aunt Connie. She has a true gift for being a great listener. While there are times when I need advice, most times when I am dealing with an issue, I just need a good ear. If I need to get something off my chest or need to hear my ideas out loud, I can call on Aunt Connie. Some of my best revelations have come from her gift of listening.
The gift of listening is something that is underemphasized in the body of Christ, where fixing things is primary. People in ministry love to solve problems but sometimes we struggle to trust the process of listening.
I’ll even venture to say that beyond ministry, we all tend to solve problems first and listen later. However, listening first and responding later has many advantages. For one thing, it helps us to respond correctly the first time. Notice how Jesus never had to backtrack on anything he said. He never had to correct himself.
Jesus often demonstrated the value of listening in his ministry. One of my favorite scenes of Jesus-type listening is in John 14:36-14:1 when Jesus foretells Peter’s denial. Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.”
Then, right after telling Peter the truth, Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (14:1). This is a case of Jesus-type listening. Jesus response was the result of him listening to Peter’s heart, which was in the right place although his courage would fail him. Jesus listened to Peter’s need and spoke a word of encouragement that he would need in the future. In other words, Jesus-type listening is hearing the person’s heart and responding with God’s heart.
In the course of our lives, we will be asked to minister to people through the act of listening. While it seems like such a simple task, our ability to hear people’s heart and respond with God’s heart is its own type of miracle.
Today, as you reflect, ask God to give you a heart for listening to people’s heart and responding with God’s heart.