Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Art of Listening

In conversations I am continually learning that what I don't say is sometimes just as important as what I do say.

James writes, "My dear friends, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" [James 1:19].

Further, the Book of Proverbs is full of such reminders.

However, this raises the imperative question, "How does one really learn to listen?"  It involves the following:
  • Taking genuine interest rather than planning your next move.
  • Communicating acceptance rather than passing judgment before the other person is finished.
  • Being patient rather than trying to close the conversation as quickly as possible.
  • Being courteous rather than repeatedly interrupting and fighting for the floor.
  • Valuing another's ideas rather than missing what he means and feels.
The way we listen will communicate whether we regard the other person as important and they are important to God and therefore should be important to us.

How do we put this into practice?

Here are six suggestions:
  • Listen for the expression of interests in the areas of personal background, family, vocation, recreation, and culture.  This is the key to friendship, because you are looking for areas of common ground.
  • Listen for the expression of felt needs.  What is this person willing to admit about himself?  This is the key to opportunities to tell about the only One who can meet our needs.
  • Listen for the expression of previous or present religious experience, without pressure or condescension.  This is the key to appreciating another's position.
  •  Listen for the expression of caricatures of Christianity.  This is the key to overcoming obstacles.
  • Ask clarifying and probing questions.  This is the key to understanding.
  • As inquiring, provocative, and challenging questions.  This is the key to helping people think their way to Christ. [1]
Remember, evangelism is a process [John 4].  

Courage and Godspeed,

1. Taken and modified from a handout given by Search Ministries at the 2012 Mt. Airy Bible Church "Defending Your Faith" Conference.


Daniel J. Carrington said...

Very good info! This would go right along with Greg Koukl's "Tactics" book. Thanks for the excellent tips on better communication!

Chad said...

Hello Daniel,

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and to visit the blog!

I really enjoyed "Tactics." It revolutionized the way I communicate in conversations.


Quasi-Paul said...

I was really blessed by this post. When I hear somebody express an opinion, especially about Christianity, that I know is absolutely wrong, I have a habit of making a facial expression that is less than encouraging to say the least. This is a helpful reminder.