The Power of Listening
After I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I prayerfully determined which medical facility I would use. I saw five neurosurgeons before deciding which one I wanted to perform a biopsy. By listening to my family and to the prompting of God, I chose M D Anderson in Houston. I am so glad I did. My first inclination was to use someone closer to home, but I kept remembering the words of a colleague and friend: “If you do not get the right diagnosis, you may not get the right treatment.” Listening to those in my inner circle shoved me toward the wisest choice for me. A brain tumor is not the same as a broken arm!
A factor that distracts us from listening is the “noise” in our world. Every day we are bombarded with information. The television has as many commercials as it does programming. My iPhone spits out emails and text messages, many of which I do not want. My computer hands me a cadre of messages every morning, and I do not even use Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter! Because of all of this “noise,” we can easily be tempted to talk more than we listen, but that will not necessarily lead to a more effective ministry. The ancient Pharaoh’s biggest problem is that he would not listen.
Listening is powerful. We get to know people by listening, not by telling. We need to consider whether we care more about hearing others so we can understand their situation or more about saying what we think is important. Since many of us in ministry were trained primarily as tellers, shifting to a listening posture is not necessarily easy. In the medical field, prescription prior to diagnosis is considered malpractice. Is the work of ministry any different? We need to listen to God and to others so we can best know how to help them.
Seek to listen more than you talk. Try listening 80 percent of the time in ministry situations. Listen to understand (Mk. 7:14). Listen for people’s motives (Lk. 20:23). Listen for their understanding (Mt. 16:13-17). Listen to God as He guides you toward an effective ministry path.
Written By Dr. Alan Woodward