Preparing to Listen

There are some helpful ways to train your leaders the art of listening.

Someone said that when you're fifteen years old, you are concerned about what others think about you. When you're forty-five you really don't care what people think about you. When you're sixty-five, you realize that no one was thinking about you anyway!The truth is that all of us spend most of our time thinking about ourselves.Paul the apostle even said, "For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 2:21).

A great place for training people to listen is the equipping process. Many churches, for example, have specific courses that each member takes. At Wellspring, the church I started, we use the fifth equipping book, Lead, to train members in listening. Then once a person is a small group leader, we have bimonthly group huddle meetings, where we remind the leaders of important small group dynamics, like listening. And of course, the small group leader should not hesitate to gently remind the group about the importance of listening. When teaching others how to listen, three areas stand out:

  1. Concentrated listening
  2. Looking the person in the eyes
  3. Non-verbal communication

Concentrated listening

Listening is all about standing back from self to fully concentrate on what someone else is saying. The word listen in the Bible occurs 352 times, and the word hear is found 379 times. Jesus said, for example, "Therefore consider carefully how you listen" (Luke 8:18). Sadly, most of us don't listen carefully. Stephen Covey says, "Most people do not listen to understand; they listen in order to answer. While the other is talking, they are preparing their reply." Yet, Scripture says, "He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame" (Proverbs 18:13). True listening is tough work. ...

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