Tuesday, June 07, 2005

learning to listen

There is something about me that loves to think, and analyze, and even argue. I love to answer questions and point things out to people that they may be missing. I think this is good in what God has called me to do, proclaim the truth of Scripture and help people know Christ. However, sometimes our greatest strengths can be liabilities, or blindspots. I remember my freshmen year in college when a friend of mine told me that I don't listen. Of course, I was initially indignant thinking to myself how often I had thought of listening and its importance to good communication. After a couple of minutes of arrogance however, I respected my friend enough to really examine myself. I found that he was right. After that I started to listen and ask questions of people simply to learn about them and try to understand them fully, even when I disagreed with them.

I've gotten better, but a couple of events in the past week have brought to my attention that I still have not arrived. On two occasions I have come out with my guns blazing - one when nobody even brought a controversial topic up, and one when a friend had simply voiced an important and searching question. After both occassions there was something inside me that didn't seem right. And as I took time to be quiet I realized that what I didn't do was really listen... not just to the words, or logical arguments... but to the heart and the search and the yearning behind the questions and the words of others. Hopefully from these faltering steps of mine God has brought me one step closer to being what He wants me to be - someone who is slow to speak and quick to listen, slow to become angry, and full of edifying words. Someone who tries to learn from each person he talk to or interacts with. There is much I can learn... this does not mean that there is not a need to speak truth and that I will turn off the analytical side of my personality. What I hope it does mean is that as I humbly listen I will gain a better grasp on what the truth is, and of what the Christ-like way to present it is.

For those of you who may get burned by strong opinionated types like myself from time to time, please remember that we are still on the journey too:)

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, Mark this is Keith. Those were some excellent words! You don't know how many times I have reaffirmed to myself that I will talk less and try not to disagree so much. I am surprised that you have never done as your friend did and told me that I need to listen more. Maybe it is just me, but sometimes I get so frustrated with it that I wish God had made me somebody who thought of less things to say. Keep up the good work. I enjoy reading what you write!

Jason said...

Me too Cous', me too. :-/

God had to teach me to be an anthropologist before I even began to figure out how to listen...and Jenn would probably be the first to say I haven't progressed far enough.

"Maybe it is just me, but sometimes I get so frustrated with it that I wish God had made me somebody who thought of less things to say."

It's not just you Keith.

Pete said...

Wise wise words Mark. I have a self-induced, self-centered ADD...

Barry said...

Good article.Our words are to be full of grace and seasoned with salt. Mine have too often been full of salt and seasoned with grace. However, while we must speak the truth in love we must speak the truth.

Mark said...

Thanks for all the good words guys. I also say amen to that Keith, less things to say might be nice. Thank you also for the encouragement to keep writing.

Aslan - thank you for that insight. Full of grace, and seasoned with salt - good thought.

Jason said...

I take it from the month long silence that you've been doing a lot of listening.

Care to talk? ;-)