Listen carefully: here’s how

The golfer cut a ball into a field of chickens, hitting one of the chickens and killing it instantly. He was understandably upset and sought out the farmer.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “my terrible tee shot hit one of your hens and killed it. Can I replace the hen?

“I don’t know,” replied the farmer ruminating. “How many eggs do you lay a day?” »

I hope this “joke” made you laugh at least a little, especially if you are a golfer or a farmer. But my thoughts today are not centered on any of these topics but on the topic of conversation.

My brother and I are learning the art of conversation. For the first time in our adult lives, we are living “screaming distance” from each other. It’s only five minutes away, by car or golf cart! And we talk more than ever in our lives.

But we have to learn (or “relearn”) the art of conversation. Because you see, he’s an engineer and I’m a pastor. Due to our given calls, our conversation method is different.

He, being very detail-oriented, often gets frustrated with my general reference to “stuff”.

And I, being very person-centered in my outlook, find myself bored to tears by his insistence on explaining everything in great detail.

A principle I’m learning is a principle I’ve known and tried to put into practice for years: quality conversation requires – indeed demands – active listening.

There is no need to read too far into the biblical account of Job’s trials (which is pronounced with a long “oh”!).

By the time you reach chapter 13 of this book, you see the suffering Job growing increasingly frustrated with his three potential comforters. Each time they respond, it becomes clear to Job that they really don’t fully understand what he is saying.

He finally bursts out with, “Listen carefully to what I’m about to say. Listen to me.” (Job 13:17).

Author Brian Doyle was reflecting on a time in his distant past history when he found himself in Rome, Italy, and wandering the streets on foot. He was walking down an alley in a part of town, when he came across a woman who he said looked “five hundred years old”.

The woman stared at him, smiled and said softly, “Cosa c’e?” Brian didn’t know what that meant, so he stopped, thinking maybe she needed help. “Cosa c’e? she said again, very softly.

“No Italian,” he said, smiling but feeling stupid. His face, however, was so attentive and full of concern that, for at least twenty minutes, if not more, Doyle conjured up his thoughts, in his own language, about his life – his confused love life, his boring job, and his bleak prospects. All the time she looked at him with the sweetest attention as if he were her own son.

Finally, he finished, feeling silly for unloading himself like this, and she reached up, patted his face, and said tenderly, “Stai zitto.”

Doyle comments on this meeting:

“For a long time I thought she gave me some kind of blessing, offered a subtle prayer in her language, until a friend recently told me that Cosa c’e? means ‘What’s the matter?’ and Stai zitto means ‘You are crazy.’

But maybe I’m a little wiser now that I’m an elder, because I believe with all my heart that she gave me an extraordinary blessing on that hot day in the alley near Via Caterina.

She listened, she paid attention, she was totally present as I opened a door within me.

This elderly lady demonstrated one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves, the gift of listening with all our might!

Gary Chapman, a renowned counselor and author of several books on marriage, admits to using the language of marriage when he writes. But his advice is good and positive whatever the context.

He offers several suggestions on how to listen effectively:

• Maintain eye contact when your partner is talking. It keeps your mind from wandering and indicates that your spouse has your full attention.

• Drop all other activities when your spouse is talking. I know you may be able to watch TV and listen to your spouse at the same time, but the message he gets is that it doesn’t really matter what he says.

• Listen to feelings and reflect on what you hear. “Looks like you’re disappointed because I forgot to take out the trash this morning.” Now your spouse knows that you are listening and they can continue to clarify their feelings and desires.

• Observe body language. Clenched fists, shaking hands, and tears can give you insight into how strongly your spouse feels what they’re saying. The stronger the feeling, the more important it is that you give your spouse your full attention.

On several occasions, our Lord challenged each of us: “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear” and “Be careful what you listen to”. (Mark 4:23-24). Now granted, these challenges were more about WHAT we listen to than HOW we listen, but certainly the need was there to “Listen Closely”.

My brother and I are each learning the need to listen to each other more carefully.

If the need to listen to ourselves is so great to improve our communication, how much more important is to listen to God? The primary way God speaks to us is through His Word, so you and I must constantly listen to Him through reading and studying the scriptures.

How is your hearing today?

God protects you…

Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former local pastor. It can be attached to [email protected] .

Comments are closed.