Listening

Listening

Are you a listener? A listener without prejudice or bias?
Are you a good listener? Who can listen attentively?
Are you a listener who can discern the message?

Serving in pastoral ministry for almost 19 years (including my internships) has taught me to learn to be a listener, not judgmental. At times, I admit I have the urge to ‘correct’ them. On the other hand, some congregants would expect me to respond, some may expect me to agree with their thoughts and narratives, and some just need someone to listen to them.

During vision casting, I have shared that ROLC will become a discipleship church that loves our community. The body of Christ shall be a safe space for people to find healing and be transformed by Christ’s love. As Isaiah 1:17 states “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Hence, let us begin to build a culture of listening. James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” I pray that we will build a culture of listening without any prejudice, where we are able to listen attentively with godly wisdom and discernment.

A culture of listening can be developed within our own households and spiritual families. Let us take some time to have a ‘coffee break’ with our family, spiritual family, and colleagues. Listen to their success stories, perhaps struggles and pray for them. Listen with great love that Jesus Christ has set a example to us.

Specialists comment that “hearing is the process, function, or power of perceiving sound, while listening is paying attention to a message, so that the receiver could process it to understand and respond to it.” Often we merely hears what people say, but not listening to them. Therefore, may I encourage brothers and sisters in Christ to be good listeners.

Many years ago, a brother came to my office and thanked me for listening to him.
Honestly, I was quite shocked because I did not say anything. He called me and said he wanted to talk to me. He left the coffee-table after I prayed for him. He explained that he did not want any answer from anyone because he knew what he should do. He just wanted to have a listening ear. Since he knew that I am an introverted pastor, perhaps I am not ‘that biased’ about his decision.

Some have shared their thoughts that they are not trained to be listeners. I am not trained too. To be a good listener just requires your time and heart. Before I listen to anyone, usually I will listen to instrumental music to clear my mind and begin to pray to God. Seeking God’s wisdom. Perhaps someone need some “advice.”

Brothers and Sisters,
Listening does not require any spiritual authority or even holding any leadership position in the church. Listening helps me build good habits: being slow to respond and less dominating in conversation. Listening also builds my patience Listening is also a good spiritual practice during my prayers.

Let us continue to build a healthy culture of listening.