“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Here is the challenge: Listen in a way that makes people want to talk with you, and speak in a way that makes people want to listen to you. Technique is involved, but it begins with caring and requires humility and selflessness. It is possible to have great listening technique, but not really listen and fail hear what someone is saying.
Many people work harder at appearing like they’re listening than they do at actually listening! This is why I emphasize that listening requires both an open heart and a disciplined mind.
Do you recognize those times when the most powerful thing you can do is care and listen? The truth is that if you don’t really care, you won’t really listen. You’ve heard the saying: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. It is an accurate statement! Keep in mind that the kind of caring I am talking about is not something you feel, it is something you do.
It is agape.
Here is how I define the caring required for listening: Find out what is important to the other person and make it important to you in a way they can feel it. Read that definition again. Let it sink in. Think about it deeply. Pray about it. The point is that caring is not about how you feel; it is about how you make the other person feel.
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment.” (Romans 12.3)
Take to heart the Romans passage. If you want to be an elite listener (and I hope you do!), then you must not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Listening and self-centeredness are incompatible. Becoming an effective listener requires you to examine yourself with sober judgment and eliminate the self-orientation that hinders you from truly caring about people and hearing their stories.
If you want to make a difference, you must listen. If you want to listen, you must care.
More tomorrow on this important topic …