Know this my dear brothers; everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…James 1:19
I’m all about the simple stuff! In general I think we tend to make things way too hard and overcomplicate things. I also think we overlook the power of simple actions. We communicate all the time with lots of people but I’ve discovered lately we might be listening but not really hearing. Now, before you think I’m typing before I’ve had enough coffee to drink, just ponder a thought for a second; listening and hearing don’t always happen at the same time. In the New Testament, St. James reminds us that we should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. I don’t know about you but I often get that a little mixed up. All too often someone comes into our life and we are so quick to help them and get back to our task that we miss hearing what they really have to say and that often means we miss the true message of the conversation.
There were two gentlemen walking together down a very noisy and congested sidewalk in a big city. One of the men stopped for a second and asked, “did you hear that”, “hear what” came the other man’s reply…”that cricket” he exclaimed. “It’s so noisy here how could you possibly hear a cricket”? The first man explained that as a biologist, he had trained himself to hear the sounds of nature. A few minutes later the biologist purposely dropped a fifty cent piece onto the pavement and people all around stopped, bent over and began to follow the sound of the bouncing coin until it was recovered. The biologist looked at his friend and said, “see what I mean, we hear what we listen for”.
What are you listening for? Are you listening for the end of the sentence or are you trying to hear the whole story? Our faith history is filled with the beautiful example of holy men and women who were masters at the art of hearing others. For instance, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is an example of someone who didn’t just listen but truly heard. It is said that when having a conversation with her, it was as if the rest of the world simply evaporated around her. She focused on each word all the while running her fingers swiftly over her rosary beads, usually offering prayers for the grace of attentiveness and God’s intercession in the person’s life she was visiting with.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to be the hands, feet and ears of Christ. Each person that comes to us is a member of his flock. Each person we have contact with is on a journey and we have the privilege of being a part of that journey; hopefully shining the light of Christ into their life even if just for a split second with a warm smile and a friendly hello. If the conversation gives us more time, here are two simple things to help us truly hear God’s people…
First…Hearing requires a connection so when someone speaks to you either in person or on the phone, put your task aside and focus completely on the conversation so you will be able to make that connection. Don’t view it as a distraction or disruption to your work; consider it a chance to give the gift of compassion and as a privilege to share another person’s journey. Hear them as Christ hears you; don’t worry about time, each time we faithfully do what God is asking he multiplies our time.
Second…Before a conversation begins say a quick prayer for the grace of attentiveness so you will be able to employ both your ears and you heart and truly hear. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation and keep it pleasing to the Father. Ask him to keep your ears open and nudge you with the right words when you need to speak.
One final thought; I’d like to quote the gospel according to Sheri…Go forth and be a hearer!
A Seed To Plant: Make a diligent attempt to hear, consciously use these two ideas for a few days and see what happens.
Blessings on your day!
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