Listening seems to be a lost art these days.
Most folks in today's culture would rather debate than dialogue. And we're rather an opinionated lot. Instead of being quick to listen and slow to speak, we tend to be quick to speak our minds and slow to bite our tongues and listen.
It's so easy to talk over each other without really hearing what is being said. If we're honest with ourselves we are often formulating our response (or rebuttal) before the other person can complete their thought.
Listening is truly an art form.
Art, true beauty-filled art, requires skill. And skill is cultivated with hard work and study. The more time spent practicing one's skill, one's art, the more one develops an eye, ear, and feel for it. With time and practice art becomes instinctive, natural, and spontaneous.
And so it goes that the more time we give to the art of listening, the more natural it will become for us. We will develop an eye, ear, and heart for what others have to say.
Listeners who've mastered this art see facial expressions and body language in others that most miss. They hear what is unsaid. They feel the hurt, anger, or frustration seething below the surface in the one they are talking with. Instead of formulating a response or rebuttal, a listener formulates questions to get at the heart of what is being said. They ask genuine, heart-felt questions because they are tuned in, not out.
No one was more instinctive and natural at the art of listening than Jesus. His ears were always tuned in ...even hearing the cries of a blind man who'd been shoved to the back of the crowd. He intuitively knew when a hurting woman touched his robe in need of healing. Seeing the lame man laying poolside in Bethesda compelled him to enter in to a dialogue, asking questions, rather than walk by like most did for nearly 38 years.
If we want to be more like the Savior, we are going to have to recover the lost art of listening.
Debate has its place, if both sides agree to be a party to it. But, debate tends to create more angst than understanding.
But, when we practice the art of listening as we converse together, it has the uncanny ability to disarm us, even if disagreements arise. Listening gifts and graces our conversation with respect and dignity. The very thing Jesus offered others when he walked this earth of ours.
Oh, that we might practice the art of listening the way you did, dearest Savior!
Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life, and because of his deep love and concern for you, you should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. Walk in humility, gentleness and patience. And most of all, let love guide your life.
Colossians 3:12 and 14