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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Learning to Be a Better Listener

In review of Proverbs 20:5 it says, ”The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (NIV).

Today’s verse is Proverbs 20:5. It reminds me that someone’s thoughts may be as deep as the ocean, but if I’m smart, I will learn to discover them.

What I’m learning is that for my prayers to be effective, I need to learn how to be a good listener. Why? Because prayer is a conversation. While I may not hear God’s voice when I pray, he has still given me the Holy Spirit and Scripture to know how he wants me to live and to encourage me. I’m guilty of being too busy, and I talk too much to really hear and understand what God, and others, may be trying to tell me.

I think that I’m already a good listener. However there’s a big difference between hearing and listening! Hearing is simply the vibrations that take place in my ear. Listening is how I decode those vibrations in my brain. Many times I’ve heard my wife, my daughter, or co-workers say something, but I didn’t listen.

Good listening turns out to be a skill. And if I’m going to be effective in my prayer life, and in all your relationships, I must learn to develop it. This morning here are four tips I came across to become a better listener.

1. Withhold judgment and criticism from the start.
Don’t evaluate until I’ve heard and comprehended it all. I’ll admit that this isn’t natural. When someone else is talking and I hear something I disagree with, I’m tempted to say, “Time out! Stop right there! Let’s deal with this.” And I never get any further. But I need to hear the person out. Proverbs 18:13 says, “To answer before listening, that is folly and shame” (NIV).

2. Keep calm.
Don’t become defensive. The Bible says in Proverbs 19:11, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (NIV). If I’m patient, I’m wise. I need to be patient with people who are less mature and those who misjudge. I need to remain calm.

3. Be an active listener.
I become a good listener by asking creative questions. Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (NIV). This verse says the real meaning of people is down inside of them. A person of understanding will be able to draw others out with questions.

4. Paraphrase and summarize.
To be a good listener I must be able to tell a person what they’ve just told me before I talk about what I need to talk about. Before I share my side of the story, I need to let the other person know I understand where he or she is coming from. To do this, paraphrase what they’ve said back to them.

Bottom Line:
Good advice lies deep within someone's heart, learn draw it out.

What this means to me:
Purpose and advice lie deep with someone's heart. If I am smart, I'll draw them out to discover them

In summary, for my prayers to be effective, I need to learn to listen. Prayer is actually a conversation. While I may not hear God's physical voice, he speaks to me through the Holy Spirit, His Word, and others. If I get too busy or talk to much, I won't really hear and understand what God and or others are telling me. To be a better listener, I need to withhold judgment and criticism. Don't evaluate until I've heard and comprehended it. This is much like one of Steven Covey's 7 habits, "Seek first to understand, then be understood". Keep calm. Overlook immaturity. Be an active listener. Ask creative questions to draw out responses. Lastly learn to paraphrase and summarize.

This morning Father I pray for me to practice better listening skills and to not be too busy or in a hurry. I also ask for your wisdom and guidance as I lead today and interact with others. Help my interactions with others be filled with love and in a helpful manner. These things I pray in your Son Jesus name, Amen!