“My fifth grade teacher was the best listener of my youth,” another participant offered. “He would paraphrase what I said and then ask if he was getting it right. It’s a technique I still use with others to this day!”
“My high school friend, Cheryl, listened to my struggles without making fun of me or talking about me to others,” her appreciative friend told our class. She continued, “We are still friends and I can still trust her to keep my stuff confidential.”
These are typical responses to the question, “Who was your best listener during your youth” I ask it when I’m teaching on the subject of active listening.
Psychiatrist and author, the late M. Scott Peck, M.D., states, “Listening well is an exercise of attention and by necessity hard work. It is because they do not realize this or because they are not willing to do the work that most people do not listen well.”
Jesus, was a great listener. He heard with more than just his ears. The Bible says, “As Jesus went, he was surrounded by the crowds. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.
“‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, ‘Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.’
“When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. ‘Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.’” (Luke 8:42-48 NLT)
Thinking Jesus’ question, “Who touched me?” was unrealistic his disciple, Peter, challenged, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” He didn’t understand how well Jesus listened.
Nevertheless, Jesus listened so well that he could feel power go out of himself when the lady in the crowd touched him. He was fully tuned-in to his spirit and his surroundings, even to the touch of his garment. He didn’t miss a thing.
Would that we would seek to be listeners like Jesus. We could be so much more effective if we listened better when things were happening around us—whether good or bad.
Thankfully, this deeper type of listening became normal for Peter. He was able to discern the real need of the lame man asking for money—and heal him. (Acts 3:6) He was able to discern the corruption of Simon the Magician who wanted to buy the Holy Spirit’s power with money—and say to him, “You are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.” (Acts 8:23)
Peter got good at listening and so can we. Listening is “by necessity hard work” but with Jesus’ help we can hear the deeper things going on around us however so quietly they may be speaking.
Giv’m Heaven!—John Parker, Listener-in-training
Listen with John at Chowchilla Simple Church 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Boulevard. Information: (209) 564-7201.