Do you want to to influence people? Do you want to make friends with anyone? Do you want to love people extravagantly?
As Christians, we should constantly be planning how we can love and serve one another better. My current home of Washington D.C. is a place where everyone has an opinion on every thing, and is more than willing to share it with anyone that will listen. (Sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not!) I love to read books and articles on how to be a better conversationalist, how to influence people, and how to make an impact people.
The principles are simple, yet challenging to actually put into practice…
Listen to people.
Engage people’s hearts.
Seek to understand people.
Find people interesting.
Listening is not the same as hearing. It’s easy to get the two mixed up. Hearing is what most of us doing, while plotting what we’re going to interject next into conversation. Don’t just hear someone – listen to them. Engage your whole self in grasping every word – both spoken and unspoken. Many people will communicate more through the unspoken word, then the words they actually choose to use.
True listening involves humility and selflessness.
I’ll be the first to admit, I think I have the most important thing to say, have the funniest joke, the coolest story etc. Personally, I have a lot of growing to do in this area. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, but rather with the intent to reply. Think about it, some of the most likable people are the ones who remember your name, maintain good eye contact, and make you feel like your’e the most important person on the planet.
One of the ways we can love others well is by listening to them. Seeking to understand their hearts, and pointing them to Christ. Sometimes, people don’t need you to fix their problems, they just need someone to listen to them, and make them feel understood.
Christ’s love was selfless. His love was extravagant. May we be like Christ in our listening, and our love. Christ made time for those whom the world didn’t value – children and women.
“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear.
So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.
Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Here’s a challenge:
Begin asking more questions than you answer.
Take a genuine interest in people.
Listen with then intent to understand!
It’ll be hard. You’ll have to bite your tongue, but oh how sweet will the reward be.
One of the most precious gifts we can offer anyone is our attention.