Are You Really Listening?

In our culture today, achieving effective communication can be incredibly challenging. Advertisers bombard us with messages, saturating the media landscape with commercials that are replayed numerous times, embedding them in our minds. However, the experience of many problems in our lives stems from a lack of wisdom and poor communication skills. To overcome these challenges, we must cultivate good conversation practices and embrace godly principles to polish our communication skills.

Poor communication can be at the center of most of our problems. Whether it's within marriages, churches, parent-child relationships, or even in the world at large, the consequences of ineffective communication can be far-reaching. To address these issues, it is crucial that we examine our listening abilities and understand the art of paying attention.

In today's fast-paced society, the art of paying attention has become increasingly rare. Our attention spans have drastically reduced over time due to constant stimulation and information overload. While people in the past could listen attentively to sermons lasting hours, nowadays, the average attention span is limited to a mere 15-20 minutes. Ralph Nichols, a communication expert, reminds us that listening is the fundamental need to understand and be understood. We need to slow down, listen attentively to others, and strive to pay attention, James 1.19.

As Christians, it is essential to develop good listening habits. This applies not only to listening to others but also to listening to God. When we examine the people Jesus addressed during His ministry, we find that many heard His words but few truly listened. Even His disciples struggled to grasp the meaning behind His teachings, often failing to connect the dots. The chief priests and religious leaders heard Jesus but let their preconceived notions hinder true understanding. However, one individual, Mary, demonstrated exceptional listening skills, truly comprehending Jesus' message.

What set Mary apart was her commitment to finding and making time to listen, Luke 10.38-42. She eagerly listened, was self-motivated to seek spiritual understanding, and made the spiritual a priority in her life. Unlike selective listeners who tune out what they don't want to hear, Mary refrained from this practice. She let go of preconceived notions and misconceptions, allowing herself to truly hear and understand Jesus' message. Mary's willingness to listen positioned her to comprehend Jesus' impending death when others failed to make the connection.

To become effective listeners, we must understand our own strengths and weaknesses in listening. We need to prepare ourselves by eliminating distractions, studying and reading beforehand, and remaining open to different perspectives. Active listening, characterized by summarizing the speaker's message and demonstrating understanding, enhances communication and fosters deeper connections.

Mary's ultimate act of worship came from her ability to listen attentively. By listening, we can worship more deeply and be used by God in powerful ways. To truly listen, we must humble ourselves, acknowledging that we don't know everything, and pay attention to both the words spoken and the meaning behind them. In a world where many hear but few truly listen, we are challenged to examine our own listening habits and ask ourselves, "Are we truly listening?"

Matthew Allen

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