5 Keys to the Ministry of Listening

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?

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Listening With Your Heart

I trust that you are learning much about yourselves, your spouse, and about the Lord during these unusual times.

These are times like no other.

Some of us are more isolated than we have ever been. Isolated from our church family, our jobs, our friends, and we’re sheltering in place with our husband or wife and children. Yet, we still feel isolated.

Gary Chapman in The Biblical Picture of Marriage, writes:

Thousands of couples have never experienced what God designed marriage to provide. They live isolated independent lives. Intimacy requires commitment. Commitment to talk, listen, and seek to understand. Together we plan and live our lives in fellowship with God. This is marriage at its best!

Gary Chapman
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What’s the meaning of love?

Red-Yellow Rose - 1

“What’s this?” I asked my writing students.

“A rose.”

“What’s a rose mean to you?”



“Men, what’s it mean to you?”

“Making up after a fight.”

“Allen,* what’s it mean to you?”


“You think aphids when you see a rose?”

“Yeah, I’m a landscaper. Have to deal with them all the time!”

In marriage, it’s important to understand the meanings we attach to words. My husband, Keith, has experiences that I have never had. His past helps to shape the meaning he attributes to my words and actions.

His meaning of the word “love” may be very different than the meaning I give “love.”

Showing love to Keith may mean kissing, holding hands, and physical intimacy. He saw this heart on the screen and started kissing my neck.

1 heart

Love to me might mean sharing our deepest dreams and values with each other. It might be praying with me and studying the Bible.

When two hearts join, the meanings they have attached to love may overlap and touch each other’s love meaning. However, there are other meanings of love that are outside of the intersection.

2 hearts

While the two have many experiences of love … family love, friendship love, boyfriend/girlfriend love, objects that remind them of love … understanding the intersection of their love meanings as well as those that do not overlap are essential to building the foundation of a love-powered marriage.


We have heard the definitions of love in the Bible.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails… 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

God is love 1 John 4:8

Great words. What do the words mean to your spouse? What do they mean to God?

We find out what the words mean to our spouses just like we find out what they mean to God. To find out what God’s love is like, we study the Scriptures; we pray, and we wait on the Holy Spirit to teach us.

To find out what love means to our spouses, we study; we pray, and we wait. We listen deeply. We ask questions. We reword their answers and ask them if that is what they mean. We watch their body language. We pray for them, and we pray for the Holy Spirit to deepen our love.

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Roses are important to me. With each opening petal, I see God’s love and His artistry, but to the landscaper, roses mean another pesky aphid.

Have you asked your spouse what love means? How do you know that you show your love to your spouse in a way that means something to your spouse?

If the intersection of your love meanings is small, you might want to try new ways of communicating your love.

I’ve developed a list of 21 ways you might show your love to each other in 21 Sparks That Fuel a Love-Powered Marriage. It’s yours for free. Please share it with others.

My prayer

Father, thank You for the gift of marriage. We ask You to bless the marriages of these readers. Fill them with a passionate love for You and for their spouses. Kindle their love and empower them to study their spouses and learn from the love meanings of their spouses. Lord, thank You for Your love. Show us Your love meanings and increase our love for You.

After you’ve tried a few of the 21 Sparks, please tell us what worked and what did not work.

If you have additional tips, please share them in the comment section.

*Name changed.