Listening Leaders

An oxymoron, or an outpouring of love?

I used to think that my lack of listening to people was due to either adult ADD or an extremely overactive leadership gift. I figured that some were gifted at listening, I was not, and therefore I could excuse it away. I really thought that to be a good leader AND a good listener was extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Then God took that little errant belief system and said, "Steve, you don't listen because you really don't care about or love people. And if you do, you care more about yourself than them. "OUCH! I declared back, "I'm the small group pastor, God!Of course I … oh boy … that is me!"

That's when it hit me. The first step in listening is genuine care, concern and love for the people God has entrusted to us. No other technique or motivation will help you listen more effectively until you ask God to transform your heart to love people as He does. Effective listening is simply one byproduct that occurs.

The small group leaders at our church are no different. They are volunteer leaders, who are busy, with a propensity for multitasking. Many are actually incredible listeners—but I again trace that back to their heart—they love their people!I want to make sure we capture this and address it ministry wide, so I'm preparing a session for our Fall Training in our local church on this very topic.

I originally was going to call listening a discipline and talk about how we can adopt this discipline to our spiritual growth. But the issue is much bigger than that—it deals with the very core of our heart. If we don't really love or care about the people God has entrusted to us, there's not enough discipline to help us become better listeners.

The first aspect of our listening training will begin ...

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