Communication is something that I talk and think about frequently. I’m a huge supporter of communication and yet I’m far from a perfect communicator. I still have plenty of times that I don’t know what to say or can’t find the right words, and of course there are the times when I put my foot in my mouth and the wrong thing comes out or nothing at all comes out. A part of adult communication is learning how to apologize and fix your mistakes going forward. But the other side of communication, and the one I want to talk about today, and in some ways helps with not knowing what to say, is about listening.
There are hundreds of references to listening in the Bible, from people overhearing things, to people listening to God, to God listening to people’s prayers. Listening is one of the hardest things for us to do because sometimes we do misunderstand or misinterpret what we hear and react accordingly (usually poorly), and of course if we’re really listening, we’re being quiet and not talking. But if everyone is talking and no one is listening we’ll never get anywhere or make any progress. We also can’t hear what God is saying if we’re too busy talking to listen.
Matthew 15:10 shares a really important insight on listening: “Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” He said, “and try to understand.””
Listening isn’t about being perfect or getting it right all the time, but it does help move the whole communication process in the right direction. Listening shows that you actually care about what the other person is saying and are trying to understand what they’re saying. Part of the listening process is learning to ask questions and being brave enough to ask questions and get clarification when you’re just not sure about what’s going on or what they’re talking about. Which ultimately is exactly what communication is: a back-and-forth listening and talking exercise and opportunity.
I encourage you to do more listening this week, both in your times with God and with your times with other people. A little listening can go a long way.