Christians are listeners by definition. God calls; we answer. “Everyone,” Jesus said, “who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (Jn. 6.45) and “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (Jn. 10.27).
Before we can effectively teach, we must first listen to and learn from the Master by sitting at the feet of faithful disciples.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
Would you say we need more preachers and Bible class teachers or more counselors? Please don’t picture a guy jotting notes on a notepad while someone pours out his past. I mean Biblical, wise women and men who can share the gospel and apply pertinent Scripture to life situations. Everyone needs a counselor whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1.2).
Where there is no guidance the people fall,
But in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Picture yourself sitting on a sofa in a living room or across a small table at the corner coffee shop looking into the tear-streaked eyes of a friend who called you for help. Perhaps her mother just died and she doesn’t know how to fill the void. Perhaps her teenage son just told her he hates her. Perhaps she’s been experiencing bouts of depression and anxiety. Perhaps her relationship with her husband is spinning out of control. Whatever the reason, she called you to help. What do you do? How do you most helpfully speak into her crisis?
Listen first! God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and wouldn’t we want someone else to listen to our story, our plight? Before we can effectively speak into this woman’s life, we must discover the inner workings of her mind. Too often, we rush to toss out Bible verses, attacking perceived surface issues so we can be back about our business–because we’re too busy to listen. True love is hard work. Take the time to listen.
Listening shows you genuinely care for the person. And I mean true-connection, locked-in, eyes-on-the-face listening. We shortchange our friend by not giving her our complete attention. Zero in on the root causes of her feelings. Is there sin involved which needs to be addressed? Does she simply need someone to sit and listen and not speak? Is there a broken relationship which needs reconciliation and healing? Does she need a deeper connection with the God of all comfort?
He who gives an answer before he hears,
It is folly and shame to him.
Try practicing the skill of listening today. Ask guiding questions and genuinely attempt to learn about someone else. You show love this way, and you will uncover opportunities to share Scriptural words of comfort and encouragement! Be a blessing.