We all have a life story. Our stories form who we are, and how we see the world. Some have said that when we hear someone's story, we get a glimpse into their soul. As a believer, we also know that God is present in our stories - even though we don't always realize it.  When sharing the Gospel, it's our call to join in the work God is already doing in someone's story. To do that, we have to look & listen for it. James said it this way, "Let everyone be quick to hear,  slow to speak, and slow to anger (Js 1:19)." Here are some concepts* to help make you a better listener:

Be Patient
after all, God is patient with us.

In this world of distractions and short attention spans, patience can be hard to come by - yet so important. Don't rush someone's story for the sake of time, or because we think we know where it's headed. It's not about efficiency - it's about effectiveness. Thankfully God is incredibly patient with us & we should do our best to reflect that. To demonstrate patience, consider the following when listening:

  1. Put Down the Device - Eliminate things that might distract us - phones, monitors, books, busy people. Distractions give the person speaking to you the impression that our attention is elsewhere (to be frank - it probably is).‚Äč
  2. Be Less, So They Can Be More - When someone is telling their story, it is easy to compare it to our own. We want to be of help, so we start to give advice, or formulate responses before they are done.  The problem: If we are thinking about what you are going to say next, then we are not thinking about what they are saying now.
Choose Love
As God first loves us.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, "Just as love to God begins with listening to his Word, so the beginning of love for [others] is to listen to them." Listening with love means choosing trying to see them as God sees them - precious creations. Remember that Jesus loves you enough to die for you - to humble himself by dying on a cross (Ph 2) - despite your imperfections. 

Ask Perceptive Questions
'Yes' & 'No' don't really tell us much.

We love to be asked questions with easy answers, like "yes" & "no".  The problem with such questions is that they don't really tell us much. They skim the surface of an issue, rather than really digging deep. Perceptive questions are those that get to the root of the issue. Proverbs 20:5 says it this way, "The purpose of a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out."

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