And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” Luke 9:35
Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a mountain to pray. Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with Jesus. Jesus’ face was altered, and His garments became a dazzling white.
Not knowing what to say, Peter asked Jesus if they could make shelters for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. While Peter was speaking, a cloud overshadowed them, and they heard the command to listen to God’s Son, Jesus.
Listening. We listen to the news as we’re making breakfast and getting ready for the day. One ear tuned to the news and the other to the banter of everyone in the house. We caught the words of everyone, but did we catch the meaning behind the words?
“Are you looking forward to today?”
Face down, “Sure!”
“Me, too!” (I wish.)
Did I really hear my husband? Perhaps, I need to pause and respond, “Tell me what you are looking forward to. Tell me the challenges you forsee today. Let’s pray.”
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me,” John 10:27. To hear Jesus is to know His voice, to know or understand Him, and to follow Him.
Do you listen to understand Jesus? To understand your husband or wife?
It takes effort, doesn’t it?
Even though we have known someone for decades, sometimes, we may not understand what he says or does, even if we think we do. We interpret words and actions from past experiences. Some of those experiences have not been shared. That is why we must study and use all the keys to listening.
5 Keys to Listening
“But Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been entrusted to them by the one who is indeed the great listener and in whose work they are to participate. We should listen with the ears of God, so that we can speak the Word of God.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
Have you thought of listening as a ministry? It takes practice and hard work.
- Attentive listening. We pause and consider the significance of what is being said. It is silencing our distractions and our thoughts to concentrate on the moment.
“Then Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel, ‘Keep silence and hear, O Israel: this day you have become the people of the LORD your God.
You shall therefore obey the voice of the LORD your God, keeping his commandments and his statutes, which I command you today.'” Deuteronomy 27:9-10.
Israel was commanded to keep silence and hear. They had become God’s people, and that meant that they needed to obey God. They needed to understand what God had commanded.
In the same manner, we can listen to others attentively and understand what they are really communicating.
- Visual listening, We understand more fully when we observe the speaker or communicator. Arms crossed tightly at the chest or a shaking leg might betray the smiling response coming from across the table.
“Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you [were] brought here so that I might show [them] to you. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see.” Ezekiel 40:4
Ezekiel was told to look and hear, fixing his mind on all that God’s messenger had to show him.
What if we fixed our minds on what we see and hear? Through the music and the artistry of ballet, we hear and see a story filled with emotion and meaning. Our communication is also filled with emotion and meaning that comes from much more than words.
- Active listening. We choose to enter our husband’s experience and share his emotions, thoughts, and actions. We actively listen to learn – to learn how we can help, encourage, or serve.
“Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” Psalm 34:11
When my daughter was a teenager, I studied the various communication tips that parents could use with their teenagers. One afternoon, I tried something different. Kristin sat cross-legged on the floor. I got down and sat cross-legged. When she leaned forward, I did, too. We had a good conversation until I mirrored her clumsily, and she caught what I was doing. I needed more practice, but I was trying to actively listen.
- Mindful listening. Listening to understand, meditating on his actions, his words, and his body language. Listening is more than one moment. It is a lifetime of focusing upon the other and responding to what you are learning about the other person.
“Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.” Psalm 119:27
What have you learned about your spouse that you did not know after one year of marriage? Many happily married couples can finish each other’s sentences or know what the other is thinking. They have studied each other. They have meditated on each other’s actions, words, and body language.
- Respectful listening. I have found myself forming an opinion as my husband speaks. By the time he stops speaking, I blurt out a response in anger.
“That’s not what I meant,” he says.
“Well, it sure sounded like it.”
If I had been respectful, I would have been attentive, observing him, actively trying to understand what he was saying, and desiring to understand the meaning behind his words.
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” James 1:19.
A silent pause to understand transforms the response.
Our Father in heaven, thank You for revealing Your goodness, Your glory, and Your love through what we see, hear, smell, touch, taste, and experience. Give us ears that hear and eyes that see our husbands, wives, children, friends, coworkers, and others the way that You see and hear them. Empower us to fully listen and bless You as well as others. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.