Are You Listening?

To Listen Is To Focus.

When I was about ten years old, I was pulled from my class room and given a hearing test by the school nurse.  I was surprised, since no other student was given the test that day.  I listened carefully to the instructions and dutifully raised my hand whenever I heard the special ping come through the earphones.  I was certain that I had done extremely well, and said so to my mother that afternoon.   Then I told her how strange it was being the only one tested.  

My mom then gave me the second surprise of the day.  She said, “John, I asked for that test, because you don’t seem to listen very well at home.  I was wondering if you had a hearing problem.”  After the test, my mom talked with the school nurse and they agreed that I did not have a hearing problem, but that I did have a listening problem.  I would selectively hear what I wanted to hear, ignoring those sound/voices/instructions that I did not want to hear.  

In a congregation there is always some selective listening.  We tend to pay attention to those activities and ministries that excite or appeal to us.  A busy mother of young children may tune out the invitation to a men’s retreat (or she may tune in if she thinks her husband should go!)  We all have filters that select what to hear, see, or feel.   In our media culture, we are all surrounded by so much “communication noise” in so many forms (music, internet, television, video games, cell phones) that it can be difficult to listen to one another.   Yet each of us can work to improve.

Here are six of my communication rules.  

  1. I never read letters or notes that are not signed. 
  2. Important information deserves face-to-face conversation.
  3. To over communicate is much better than to under communicate.
  4. Never write in an e-mail what you would not say face-to-face.
  5. To over communicate is much better than to under communicate.
  6. God communicates his love to me every day.  Am I listening?

How are your listening for God?  for others?

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