The following question submitted to Ask Pierre:
How is listening important to life and relationships?
Answer: The most direct teaching on listening in the Bible comes from the book of James which exhorts us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”. (James 1:19, NIV)
Jesus taught, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (Mark 4:9, NLT) More than just teaching on listening Jesus modeled listening as a lifestyle. He often asked people questions to hear what they thought and believed.
Over time, God has taught me that listening is vital to both relationships and ministry.
Here are 10 of the greatest lessons I have learned about listening.
1. Listening shows respect
When we genuinely listen to other people we are saying to them, “Your life matters.” The opposite is also true. If we are not fully engaged with the people in our lives by active listening, we are really sending them the message, “You are not important.” To truly listen is to respect. (Romans 12:10, 1 Peter 2:17)
— Pierre Eade (@PierreEade) November 1, 2015
2. Listening helps us understand
Pastor Danny Silk in his book, Loving on Purpose, wisely states that the goal of communication is not agreement, but understanding. The only way to succeed in understanding another person is to learn to listen to what they have to say including how they feel about a matter. It does not mean you have to agree; it means you show that you care for them by trying to understand. (Mark 4:9, 1 Peter 3:7)
3. Listening allows us to learn
Imagine sitting in a classroom with headphones on listening to music while a teacher is giving instructions. How much would you hear, retain and learn? In the same way, we miss out on learning opportunities in life and relationships when we do not intentionally listen both to people and to God. If you desire to learn more, you must first learn to be a better listener. (Mark 4:9)
4. Listening can be learned
Some people seem to be more naturally wired to be good listeners. For the rest of us, myself included, we need to learn how to become better listeners. As it is with any other skill in life, listening takes practice. For starters, try to avoid interrupting people. Next, try to focus on the words they are saying without moving ahead of them in your brain. Lastly, quit thinking about what to say next; keep your focus on what the other person is saying. (James 1:19)
5. Listening is a rare gift
In a world in which distractions are at an all time high and self is exalted at every turn, it is hard to find a good listener. If you choose to develop the skill of listening, you are about to give your family, friends, co-workers and even strangers a rare gift. It is the gift of your undivided attention. You will find that if you give this gift, it is more frequently returned back to you. (Luke 6:38)
6. Listening can be enjoyable
I have come to enjoy listening to other people. It really does not matter the topic. I like to listen because I like to learn about what’s going on inside a person. And the only way to truly know what a person thinks is to listen. To me, this is an enjoyable experience because it helps me to better understand people at their core. If you enjoy people, listening can be a true blessing.
7. Listening requires patience
As you try to develop a greater ability to listen to others, it may stretch your patience. If you are a habitual interrupter, listening will truly take some self-control. The good news is that patience and self-control are both the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Listening to others gives us an opportunity to cultivate the Spirit’s fruit within our hearts, lives and relationships. (Galatians 5:22-23)
8. Listening builds friendships
My best friends in life are all good listeners. I try to reciprocate the honor by listening to them. Listening is truly the bedrock of authentic friendship. In my opinion, people who want to talk all the time do not make very good friends. Friendships that are mutually edifying involve two people who both try to listen to each other and take genuine interest in each other’s behalf. (Proverbs 17:17)
9. Listening is a powerful tool
As a pastor and a coach, I have found that listening is an amazingly powerful tool to help people. At times, just showing others genuine interest and curiosity allows them to think through their own problems. Jesus used powerful questions and listening to help steer people in the right direction and even to allow people to hear themselves think. Listening empowers others.
10. Listening is wise
“A wise man will hear and increase learning.” (Proverbs 1:5a) People who are wise learn to listen to others and gain knowledge and understanding. A parent can find it extremely frustrating when they have a child who will not listen. Not listening can become a great detriment in life. On the contrary, as we listen, we gain knowledge, understanding and insight. (Proverbs 18:2)
I hope these ten reasons have inspired you to work on becoming a better listener. If there is one even greater motivation to work on being a better listener it is this: Listening makes us more like Jesus. And for me, anything that will help me to grow more like Christ is something I want to value and work on.