Are you a good listener?
Are you going through a time when it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel? It’s dark and there isn’t an end to the things that are happening to you? Do you need someone that you can talk to that will listen and help you through it?
You confide in a friend, and he or she listens to you and then tells you all these things that they are going through or they give you a list of solutions.
What happened to them is important too, but it doesn’t solve your problem. What you need is someone to listen to you and be a friend.
Guys, has your wife ever come to you and said, “Can we talk?” Mine has! We are “best” friends besides being married. I would sit down with her and listen quietly and before she was done, I would have the answer that she needed to hear.
I would tell her, she would listen, politely, and then walk away totally frustrated. After a while we stopped talking like that. One day I asked her, “How come we never talk anymore when you are having trouble with a problem? Her answer was really shocking to me. She said, “I don’t want you to solve my problem, I just want you to listen. I can solve it, myself, but by talking to you, I can get a better perspective for what I need to do.” Wow, was that an eye opener.
That same thing happens in our relationship with others. Few people will listen and not give an answer or relate their struggles at the end. Even in today’s churches.
Many people are struggling with daily issues, and have nowhere to turn. If they are honest with you, the answer is not to tell them how to solve what they are going through or that they are experiencing the consequences of sin and need to get back on the right path with God.
Sometimes that’s true, but it isn’t necessarily what they need to hear at that point in the conversation. What they need is a friend willing to sit with them and listen, to pray with them, and to cry with them.
So, how does that happen? How do we become good listeners? My bible study group is going through a series on “How to become a Romans 12 Christian”. The instructor is Pastor Chip Ingram of “Living on the Edge” Ministries. In our last session, he brought out three things that separate us from a close relationship with the Lord.
- The Lust of the eyes, deals with our feelings.
- The Lust of the Flesh, deals with our wanting things.
- The Pride of Life, deals with our position on the ladder of life or our status.
The last one is the one I want to address.
Romans 12: 3b;
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
This is a command, and I believe it is the crux of what we read in the first part of this discussion. We want (subconsciously) to be the best we can be. And when we are meeting with others, even in their times of need, the old sin of “the Pride of life” rears its ugly head and we become like the world. We seek STATUS!
We want to listen to them and help them. We want to solve the problem for them so they will know we are a good friend. Elevating us on the ladder.
After listening to them, by asking questions like “Have you considered…?” or “What’s another alternative?”, they may have a different perspective. It builds them up rather than you. They solve their problem, not you, elevating them on the ladder. They will appreciate your wise council and come back to you when they have other issues, because you are truly a “good friend” and a “good listener”.
My challenge to you this week is to think about what you are doing when a friend comes to you with a problem and wants to talk. Is it more important to listen as a friend, or to show them how good you are at solving problems? Hopefully it’s the first one, Listen as a friend.