Weekly Devotional 052724

A Quiet Listener Speaks Volumes

by Tracy Gordon

“My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”  –James 1:19

I don’t know about you, but I feel the world around me has gotten awfully noisy. It seems like everyone is in a hurry. People talk over each other, don’t take time to listen to one another, and tend to dominate conversations. It is simply exhausting. In his book, Lead Like Jesus, Ken Blanchard sums it up like this:

“Pick up any daily newspaper, and you will quickly find examples of abandoned values, betrayed trust, exploitation, and manipulation committed by people of power and influence. Corporate leaders exploit privileges of position, bringing ruin to employees and investors. Citizens of underdeveloped countries languish in poverty and hopelessness in a leadership vacuum. Church leaders experience crises of integrity, compromising their churches and breeding skepticism and disillusionment. Families and personal relationships drift away from mutual commitment and head toward battlegrounds of self-absorbed conflict over rights to individual fulfillment. The leadership model that people often experience is summarized by the popular opinion: “It’s all about me.” The good news is that there is a better way. There is one perfect leadership role model you can trust, and His name is Jesus.” 

Jesus was a master listener. His brother James reminds us of this when he says, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Jesus displayed a remarkable ability to listen empathetically, discern the needs of others, and offer transformative guidance. Jesus’ ministry was characterized by His deep compassion and attentive listening to people society marginalized, including tax collectors, sinners, and the sick.

Jesus often used parables to convey profound truths, demonstrating His understanding of effective communication through active listening. By using relatable stories, He engaged His audience and allowed them to grasp spiritual concepts more easily. Through His powerful storytelling, Jesus showed us the importance of listening to others’ experiences and crafting messages that resonated with their unique perspectives. Consider Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well. He listened intently to her story, acknowledging her deepest struggles, and offering her ‘living water.’ Jesus’ care through attentive listening broke societal barriers, transformed this woman’s life, and ignited a revival in her community.

Moses also displayed remarkable listening skills throughout his journey in Exodus. When confronted with the burning bush on Mount Horeb, he listened attentively to God’s instructions. Despite his initial reluctance, Moses faithfully listened to God’s guidance, paving the way for the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Through his empathetic listening, Moses fostered a deep sense of trust, unity, and loyalty among the Israelites that propelled them forward as a united nation.

When I think about individuals in my own life who lead like Jesus, I immediately think of my husband Jim. He truly is a brilliant listener and I continue to learn from him in that regard. When you talk to Jim, you are important, valued, and heard. He doesn’t think about what he is going to say when you stop talking, or what opinion he is going to give. He looks you in the eyes as if to say, “I am all in, I hear you and what you have to say is important.” Our children have also greatly benefitted from this quality and example in the leader of our family.

As we reflect on these examples of servant leaders and others we know in our own lives, may we be inspired to cultivate our own listening skills, recognizing they are integral to effective leadership and an overall positive impact in our lives and the lives of those around us.

Lord Jesus, as it says in Proverbs 29, let us not be a fool who speaks in haste. Help us to live and lead by Your great example of an active, attentive listener. May we truly see, value, and hear one another so the noise and chaos around us diminishes. In Your most precious name we pray, Amen.

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