“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples,
That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.
The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not disobedient. . .” Isaiah 50:4-5
“Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” James 1:19
One of the very deepest desires we all have is to be heard, for our innermost heart to be understood by another human being. We long to be valued. Unfortunately, we live in a world of people like ourselves, who are self-centered and would rather talk about themselves. Carl Medearis, in his 42 Seconds: the Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions, says,
“If you want to be intentionally present with people, try asking . . . questions. . . . Then listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth. Use them in proportion. We have a hard time listening rather than talking because, well, we’d rather talk. Talking keeps us in control. We don’t have to hear anything we’re not interested in. We’re the center of attention. We can bolster our own identities. Try listening to understand, not to formulate your reply.” pages 41-42.
Listening to the person God has put us with conveys respect for their importance, that their thoughts and concerns matter. It is one of the most honoring, supremely desired gifts we can give to people. To be this fully present in the conversation requires conscious emptying of the Self. It demands shunning any agenda, letting our conversation partner set the agenda according to their need.
Jesus was a good example to us in the way He listened to the woman with chronic hemorrhage, on His way to save the life of Jairus’s daughter. He did not allow his urgent mission to stop Him from offering Himself to the lady, fully present to her need. Luke 8:40-48
Lord, let me worship You by acknowledging with reverent awe that You have preceded me in my conversation partner’s life, knowing that You will guide me to be to them what they need in that moment. Let me be fully present to them, to hear their hearts. Let them feel through my ears Your own love for them.