Read: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” James 1:19 (ESV)
Reflect: Listening is not my strongest quality. I typically listen to the first few minutes of someone telling a story before I get excited about something they said and try to find an opening where I can jump in and tell my tale. As soon as I became aware of this, I started looking for ways to become a better listener. One way I’ve found is to ask questions and show genuine interest. If someone is sharing something personal with me, I try to quietly listen, then ask follow-up questions that may lead me to understand if they are looking for advice, someone who can relate, or simply someone to listen. I have found that my relationships are slowly beginning to strengthen as I’ve done this.
I recently had a conversation with the parent of a child who was in my son’s class last year. We were having a casual conversation when she started to express concern about her child’s performance at school. I quietly listened and could sense her angst as she shared the details with me. I asked questions and made a few suggestions once she asked the question, “What would you do?”
The next day, she sent me a message and thanked me for listening and offering advice. She said she felt a lot better about what she had to do and I felt good knowing I’d helped someone during a difficult time. This experience reinforced to me that listening with my heart, asking questions, and then choosing how to respond allowed me to meet the need she clearly expressed.
React: Take the time to actively listen to the conversations people initiate with you. You may find that they are seeking to make a connection and build a relationship.
Pray: God, help us to listen well this week.