The first service one owes to others in the community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives us God’s Word, but also lends us God’s ear. We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them.
(p. 98). Wow. God blesses us by promising to listen to us. He doesn’t always answer in return, but we believe he always listens. Therefore, we take on the very image of God when we listen to one another.
Imagine how far fewer fights and arguments we’d have if we’d honor this one rule! Who among us hasn’t grown frustrated, even angry, when a dispute arose and we knew — KNEW! — that the other person wouldn’t have disagreed at all if only he’d taken the time to listen.
I remember years ago hearing a sermon by Patrick Mead in which he recommended a ministry of presence, that is, that we turn off our cell phones, pagers, and laptops, and just take the time to actually give someone our undivided attention, to truly listen.
We don’t have to agree or even understand. No one can promise that. But we can surely promise to give someone the totality of our attention.
There is nothing more unselfish. Indeed, one of the most selfish things we can do is to prefer the noise of our own thoughts while pretending to care about what someone else is saying.
We live in an age when time is hard to come by, and when multi-tasking is considered normal. Many of us cannot go five minutes without checking our cell phones, and our brains demand the constant stimulation of new emails and Facebook postings.
We fill ourselves with messages but not with listening — and so we live in age filled will communication — and loneliness. Listen.