A zoologist was walking down a busy city street with a friend. In the midst of the honking horns and screeching tires, he exclaimed to his friend, "Listen to that cricket!" The friend looked at the zoologist in astonishment and said, "You hear a cricket in the middle of all this noise and confusion?"Without a word, the zoologist reached into his pocket, took out a coin, and flipped it into the air. As it clinked on the sidewalk, a dozen heads turned in response. The zoologist said quietly to his friend, "We hear what we listen for."
In highlighting the value of listening, the Scriptures provided specific guidelines towards becoming a keen listener.
· Training our ears to hear and learn from others: Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding. Proverbs 2:2, ESV
· Submitting oneself to better advice: The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. Proverbs 12:15, ESV
· Maintaining one’s cool when facing trouble: Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Proverbs 17:27, ESV
· Accepting other’s insights: Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20, ESV
As far as listening is concerned, God exemplifies it towards His children. On the other hand, believers are expected to do the same level of listening with others as well. Dietrich Bonhoeffer offered this timely advice:
Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.
From a spiritual perspective, focusing on God’s words sharpens our listening skills. It happens when we become conscious of God’s words and purposefully listens coupled with the application. As a result, those within the sphere of our influence greatly benefit from us becoming a conscious listener to them as well. Robert W. Herron expressed it this way. “Good listening is like tuning in a radio station. For good results, you can listen to only one station at a time. Listening requires a choice of where I place my attention.”
Due to the lack of listening skills, the simple situation worsens unnecessarily. Thus, to avoid aggravating a simple case, applying some strategies in becoming a keen listener is required. It starts by developing patience in listening though being attentive. It’s interesting that “the word 'listen' contains the same letters as the word 'silent'” (Alfred Brendel). Purposefully, we must practice listening without interrupting others. In this regard, John Maxwell provided this reminder: “Earn the right to be heard by listening to others. Seek to understand a situation before making judgments about it.”
In the end, becoming a keen listener involves a decision to see other people’s value and hearing their opinions first before seeing the value of our idea. When this process becomes firmly established, we will earn the right to be heard and to express our opinion.
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