Preachers talk all the time. Some people believe we talk too much (maybe some of us do)!
We talk when we are preaching.
We talk when we are teaching.
We talk when we are answering Biblical questions.
We talk when we are counseling.
But when do we listen?
WHEN DO WE LISTEN TO THE WORD OF GOD? It was a great privilege on a recent Sunday night for me to sit in an audience and listen. We were traveling and we were richly blessed to be able to listen to a dear friend of proclaim the Word of God.
His lesson was masterful. He read from God’s Word, he quoted God’s Word, he explained God’s Word. I will try to be a better Christian because my friend taught me based on 1 Timothy 6:11-12 that we should Flee, Follow, and Fight (thanks Robert for being such a great man of God and for speaking His Word so clearly).
Do you ever just sit and listen to God? “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Do you listen to Him as He communicates to you through His revealed Word?
Do you listen to Him as He communicates through His creation? “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” (Psalm 19:1)
Do you listen to Him as He communicates through His people? As Christians it is our duty to show God to the world as well as to one another. “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a Holy Nation, a people for God’s Own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
WE NEED TO LISTEN TO OTHERS. There are so many people around us who desperately need and want to be heard.
Our wives need us to listen to them. Brothers, too many times in my life I have known of preacher’s and church leaders wives who watch their husbands counsel, console, and carefully listen to church members while they are starving for attention. As an old preacher friend use to say, “These things ought not to be.”
Our children need us to listen to them. Again, it is a shame when we show attention to other people’s children, but not our own. Young preacher, when was the last time you got down on the floor and played with your children? When was the last time you took your small children to the park, to the zoo, on a trip, etc.?
Our brothers and sisters in the Lord need us to listen to them. Many people who listen to us from week to week are dying to be heard. They need us to listen to them. They need us to pay attention to what they have to say and what they think. So, how should we listen?
LISTEN WITH OUR EARS. No doubt you are saying by now, “Thank you captain obvious!!” However, some people just don’t listen. They may hear words but the minute the conversation is completed or they turn to walk away they could not tell you one thing that was said.
LISTEN WITH OUR EYES. People need to know that they have our undivided attention. When I was doing my student preaching in college a wonderful Christian sister taught me a valuable lesson.
She was talking and apparently I was looking around and not focusing on what she was saying to me. She said, “Jeff, why don’t you look at me when I’m talking to you? Why are you looking everywhere else?”
I never forgot her gracious wisdom. I have made it a priority when people are talking to me to try my best to look them in the eye. It is so important that the person talking has my undivided attention.
This is not easy, but I can’t tell you how important it is. This is true when we are listening to our wives, our children, or any other person we encounter. When we listen with our eyes it says, “You are important to me. What you are saying matters. You have my undivided attention.”
LISTEN WITH OUR MINDS. While this important part of listening my not be easily detected, it will be seen in our responses to what people say.
Sometimes we may be listening with our ears and even our eyes, but our mind can be a million miles away. You know, thinking about what I need to be doing, where I need to be going, how busy I am, and I really don’t have the time to be here listening!
When we listen with our minds we will give helpful responses and suggestions to the person speaking. We will provide the information they need and assist them in finding solutions to their problems.
LISTEN WITH OUR HEARTS. During His ministry Jesus was always being moved with compassion for the people who followed Him. (Matthew 9:13; 14:14; 15:32; 20:24)
When we listen with our hearts people will be able to know it. They will be able to tell that we really care about them and their pain. Listening with our hearts allows us to be sympathetic and sometimes empathetic. It says, “I care about you, your problems matter to someone!”
If we want to be like our Heavenly Father and our Savior we will learn to listen.
Dear Father, help us to listen. Help those of us who are trying to busy ourselves in Your service to listen. Help us to listen to You as you communicate to us through Scripture, through Your created world and through your created people. Help us dear God to listen with our ears, our eyes, hour minds and our hearts. Thank You for always listening to us, through the Name of Jesus we pray, Amen.