Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Art of Listening

One of the attributes most appealing and yet difficult to find in a woman is her ability to listen, really listen to those around her. I know I struggle to stop what I am busy doing and truly listen to what my husband or boys want to tell me. In that moment, loading the dishwasher, checking email or Facebook, or worse yet, watching TV become more important that my beautiful family. I want to send the message to them that they are important to me! I want them to know deep in their hearts that they will ALWAYS rank far above any mundane chore, computer screen, or TV show! I never want them to doubt where they stand in my favor.

As convicting as that though may sometimes be, what about how I listen the the Lord? Do I often stop to give Him my full time and attention? Do I rush through my devotions to get on to my day? Do I pause and linger, waiting expectantly for what He has to tell me? Tomorrow, as I, like many of you, will head off to church, am I prepared to listen? Are you?

For a moment, let's think about the definition of the word "listen." According to The American Heritage Dictionary the word listen means "to make an effort to hear something, to pay attention or heed to something." How often do we listen as described in this definition?

The Bible has much to say on this topic, but we will just consider a few verses. Proverbs 20:12 tells us that the Lord designed us to listen. "The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them." Read Mark 4:23-25, "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear; with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you; and unto you that hear shall more be given."

Ponder the clear lesson given to us by Mary's example in the art and skill of listening. Remember how she paid rapt attention to Jesus in Luke 10. She did not scurry about and become distracted. She gave Jesus all of her attention. Many of us ought to heed the very gently admonition Jesus gave to Martha concerning this. She was not corrected for being busy or even for wanting Mary to help her.  Jesus spoke to her because He knew the importance of stopping and listening.

What things ought we listen to? First and foremost, we must listen to God's Word. We must allow it to penetrate our hearts and minds.

What about our husbands and children as mentioned above? Do we dominate every conversation with our friends? Do we allow others a chance to speak? When we do allow them an opportunity to share, are we busy formulating our next sentence in our minds? Remember Jesus and the little children? He was busy, He had schedules to keep and important matters to attend to, but He stopped and let them be important. What an example for us to follow! We must practice the important discipline of listening.

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