The Gift of Listening

The Gift of Listening

Attentive listening is hard work, but it's necessary for healthy community.
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  • Waits on what the Spirit desires to reveal rather than rushing in with one's own thoughts and interpretations
  • Asks questions that continually seek to unlock the deeper reality of the other person's experience, gently offering them permission to explore, own, and integrate their experiences into their spiritual experience—questions like "What was that like for you?" "How did you experience God (or not) in the midst of that experience?" "What happens when you pray about that?" "What questions does that raise for you?"
  • Encourages the person toward mature faith—in other words, to discover God's presence and trust God's purposes in all aspects of life (and they themselves have to discover it; we cannot force this kind of insight on them)
  • Invites the other into creative participation in God's redemptive purposes in the world: a greater connectedness with what God is doing in the world, a clearer sense of one's place in it, and a generous response to God's calling according to the gifts one has been given

As it turns out, this is exactly the kind of listening and speaking the disciples experienced on the Emmaus Road.

—Taken from Life Together in Christ by Ruth Haley Barton. Copyright 2014 by Ruth Haley Barton. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426.

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