People have a lot to say these days. In today’s world we have information streamlined to us, our social interactions are constantly buzzing via social media, and our thoughts are contained in 140 character tweets. Within this culture I’m starting to notice a common issue arising, and it is one that I have been struggling with for a little while now.
See, we don’t listen. I mean we listen but we don’t. Let me explain.
Living on a college campus I come across a lot of people and have a lot of conversations. However, I notice that within these conversations I’m not really engaging with these people. I hear what they say more or less, usually waiting for my turn to speak, and then release the floodgates of my thoughts.
How many of us would say that we are more concerned with speaking than listening? I sure know that I am. But what if that wasn’t the way it was? What if we lived in a world dominated by listeners?
I recently was reading over James 1:19, which says, “My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger,”
“Quick to hear” isn’t exactly how I would describe myself. But I would say that I continue to learn that half of ministry is listening. Not hitting people over the head with bible verses, not trying to tell them that God is in control, and not just saying I’ll pray for you. I think God has a greater design in mind for how we live with one another. We are to be people who love, listen, and step into people’s pain and hurt with them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)
I don’t think we can be doing this if we spend our time waiting for our turn to talk. That isn’t ministry. I have been challenged this week to stop thinking about what I’m going to say and to start trying to enter into my brother’s and sister’s pain. To start hearing them out and come alongside them. Not to preach at them, but to weep with them.
I would encourage all of you to clean out your ears and start to listen, and I mean really listen. You may be surprised just how much it changes the people around you, and if your experience is anything like mine, then you will leave changed as well.