Hard of Listening

Is Anybody Listening?

Do ever get the feeling that everybody’s talking but nobody’s really listening? The daily influx of clutter, distractions, and decisions increases at a steady pace. We’ve got noisy calendars, noisy phones, noisy viruses, noisy politics, and it just doesn’t stop.

It’s Nothing New

This lack of listening isn’t just a 21st-century epidemic. In 300 BC, the philosopher Zeno of Citium said, “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” Easier said than done, my wise friend!

Several years ago my daughter interviewed a university professor who is deaf. He described three of his four children as hard of hearing and one, the child who could hear, as “hard of listening.”

That unique phrase got me thinking. Am I “hard of listening” when surrounded by the noise of this crazy world?

Cutting Through

As speakers, writers, and leaders, how do we cut through the noise to deeply listen to the heart of God? How do we ensure that our prep time is a powerful and prayerful exercise in connection with our Heavenly Father, not just another task on our “to do” list?

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,

Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:1-4

As a professional Christian coach, I spend a significant amount of time listening. I have the letters W.A.I.T. (Why Am I Talking?) on my desk. That question reminds me to still the noise and actively listen to the hurts, questions, victories, and passions on my clients’ hearts. Listening is the foundation of helping them set and achieve their goals.

In the same way, I believe that deeply listening to God’s voice is essential as we prepare to share His word with others.

How to Listen

When we teach new coaches how to listen, we encourage them to listen with, listen for, and listen in. I apply these same principles when listening to God’s heart as I prepare my message.

Listen with God’s goals in mind.

God has a plan and a purpose for your life. Ask God to reveal how your message fits into His plans. What he is saying to you personally during this time of study and worship? Jot down those whispers of truth and keep them handy while you write.

He also has plans and a purpose for your audience. What does He want them to hear through you? What next steps might He be calling them to take through the words you share?

Listen for the ways that God designed you.

God gifts each of us with unique talents, passions, values, and experiences. Preparing to share God’s word gives us an opportunity to draw on the ways that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

Ask God how your talents, passions, values, and experiences align with the truths you’ve been asked to share. How can the passions of your heart pour into your words? How can your challenges and struggles reveal God’s glory and faithfulness?

I love how Frederick Buechner expresses this in Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC.

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness

and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

The world is hungry to hear from God. Listen to how He will use your story to reveal His truth.

Listen in the power of the Holy Spirit.

What an encouragement it is to know that the Holy Spirit is a member of our writing team! He is our direct connection to God’s heart, the one who intercedes on our behalf and speaks truth over our lives.

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.

He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears…” John 16:13 (NIV)

As you pray and prepare, pay attention to the ideas that pop into your mind. Listen to the nudges on your heart, for his wisdom and truth. Let that truth overflow into your words.

Are You Listening?

An interviewer once asked Mother Theresa, “When you pray, what do you say to God?” She said, “I don’t talk I listen.” The interviewer than asked, “What does God say to you?” Mother Teresa replied, “He doesn’t talk. He listens. And if you don’t understand that, I can’t explain it to you.”  May we always be speakers, writers, and leaders who listen, truly listen, to the heartbeat of our Heavenly Father.

Question:  As you listen to God during our current COVID-19 crisis, what is He nudging you to do? 

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