and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Each new year I work with my ninth grade classes on goal setting, planning, and character building. This is an opportune time because at the beginning of the ninth grade — they think they know it all. They don’t know what they don’t know! At the middle of the year, they’ve gotten their grades and most of them have gotten the rude awakening that this is where it begins to count! They realize they want to make better grades and they are willing to change — to listen!
Albert Einstein said, the definition of insanity is
Well, that is what so much of us do. We want new results but we don’t want to change. It doesn’t happen!
I have a grandmother who I adore. She is truly a woman who has made much of her life after growing up with nothing in the depression. I am forever changed due to her presence. One of the most complimentary things that all people have said about her is how she listened. When you talked to my grandmother, she would attend to you with a rapt, engaged expression of 100% listening. She watched your body language and she saw everything! She listened and heard!
I want to be more like her. My new year’s resolution is unlike that of many, I think. I am resolved to become a rapt, engaged listener. It is so important. I feel that I do it so poorly.
I have picked up a life changing book that I love called The Servant: A Simple Story about the True Essence of Leadership by James C. Hunter. In this book, the mentor Simeon is talking to a man who has been sent on sabattical by his wife and work for an inability to get along with people. He seemingly has everything but has some habits that cause problems with others.
Simeon tells John, the executive on Sabbatical:
“But that’s not the way I feel, Simeon,” I [John] objected. “I have a great deal of respect for you.”
“Your feelings of respect must be aligned with your actions of respect, John.”
Amidst my conviction, I happen to pick up the book on my shelf that speaks directly to my weakness! Talk about getting God’s message! I have no excuse. I simply MUST become a better listener. Just because others interrupt me, I will not fight to get a word in. It will make me a better wife, mother, friend, teacher, and parent.
In fact, today as we discussed character in class, I had my ninth graders list the character traits of an effective teacher. Guess what they were? The overwhelmingly agreed that the best teachers:
- Not Judgemental
- Have some fun but get the job done
- Knowledgeable – “Know their stuff.”
Guess what? I named the characteristics in a good student and they are the same. They encourage others. They listen to me attentively. They help me and other students when needed. They understand when I’m having a hard day and are kind. They are not judgemental when I haven’t graded their paper quite as quickly as they would like. They are relaxed and hear me out. They have some fun but get the job done. They teach me as they bring new material in from outside of class and ultimately they “know their stuff” as they learn the work!
I could talk about all of these things, however, notice — listen was on both lists. I believe it is also on God’s list for His children!
and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, Proverbs 1:24
| 1 Samuel 8:19
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us.
| Jeremiah 44:16
16 “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD!
| Zechariah 7:11
11 “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears.
God does not take kindly to those who do not listen. Sometimes I pray and talk to God and try to listen quietly. By the time I’m done my mind has wandered from the mall to the grocery store. When I’m in church listening to sermons sometimes I’m thinking about what I’m going to cook that week. Now, not always, but much more than I should. I am “refusing to pay attention” or “stopping up my ears” with busy-ness. This has got to stop!
How do I become a better listener? Well, as I’ve sought God’s Word, here are some of the things I believe He’s telling me:
1) I must keep silent. God says “be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 Not “while you’re running around” or “while you’re making your list” but “be still!”
There is a reason! “He who has hears to hear, let Him hear” and “Listen!” (Mark 4:3 ) are peppered throughout Christ’s words here on earth! He is God! He knows we are self absorbed and selfish. He wants us to listen!
Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days.
Proverbs 19:19-21 (in Context) Proverbs 19 (Whole Chapter)
“ Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted, Who are far from righteousness:
Isaiah 46:11-13 (in Context) Isaiah 46 (Whole Chapter)
2) I must choose to listen. It is a choice! Not listening has negative consequences! Listening has positive consequences including having wisdom.
[ The Parable of the Trees ] Now when they told Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted his voice and cried out. And he said to them: “Listen to me, you men of Shechem, That God may listen to you!
A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
When my classes do not listen, they are rebuked. Our heavenly father will do that to us as well.
I am praying and asking for God to help me. I am also making an effort to find at least 6 people a day that I spend time with and listen to them. I will not multitask when I am listening. I will look at them while I am listening. I will nod and not speak until they finish. I will ask probing questions. I will show I care by my respectful and kind actions. God works through those who are attentive to others.
I had a professor on the first day of class who drew a large circle covering most of the board. He then drew a tiny x in a small corner of a board outside the circle. He pointed to the circle and said “This is the universe.” Then he pointed to the X and said, “This is you. What do you notice?”
We all drew blanks as we struggled — what could he mean? After some very “sharp as a marble answers” and meaningless mumbles and lots of foot shuffling he said, “Notice that you (he pointed to the X) are not at the center (he pointed to the circle) of the universe! We are all so inwardly focused that we think everything is about us. It is not. The graveyard is full of indispensible people.” And then he proceeded to teach one of the greatest management courses I’ve ever had.
The last item from the Servant is that life is “not just about the contribution you make it is about the life you live.” It is about having meaningful, satisfying relationships. To have mutual, trusting relationships it must be a two way street. I do not like to be around boorish people who talk about themselves all the time. When I get to heaven if I realize that I’ve been that person there will be tears in heaven — mine. It cannot be so!
We all have things about ourselves that we are convicted that we need to work on. What is yours? Who do you need to listen to today?
In Girls in Action tonight we are beginning to study about the Winter Olympics that will be in Italy next month. Please commit to pray for the Olympics. We will have hand warming stations and other ministries.
I have a lot of material in my GA news but not a lot of information on the Internet. The exciting thing about this is that some of the athletes and visitors that will be attending are from countries hostile to Christians. If we went to their country as a missionary, we would be imprisoned, killed, or exported. However, at the Olympics, missionaries can provide services and have access to “unreachables” in this world. This is an amazing opportunity. We need to ask our churches and missions groups to pray for this. It will be an exciting study during the month of January in our missions groups!
It is so amazing, the concept that they are using is that of servant evangelism (Derek Spain, missionary to Lake Placid uses this technique) which also happens to be the technique talked about in The Servant. (No I didn’t plan this “coincidence.”)
With that approach, Spain is frequently asked why he is providing volunteers if they want nothing in return. He uses it as a witnessing opportunity, saying it is because they love God and they love people. And often they add that they understand Jesus came to serve others and to make a difference in the world, and they want to do the same thing.
“Servant evangelism has provided us with a real platform to share our faith. They don’t mind that we do it because we have such a gentle approach. The downside is that because it’s such a nontraditional approach we may never see the end result, but that’s OK because we are planting the seeds that one day may lead to the harvest. And, that’s all that God asks of us. We will plant so others can reap.”
I remember hearing some volunteer missions workers talking about how a shop owner came to Christ after they came into the resort town and cleaned her bathroom. They said the shop owner was so astounded that someone would come in and clean the worst part of her store that she felt that she should learn about Christ. She did more than learn about Christ.
We have two things to learn this. Firstly, we have much prayer to do for the Olympics. Secondly, what can we do in our community for others to serve them.
Lord, help us as we spend time in self examination. Help us to listen to You. Help us to listen to others. Forgive us for thinking we are what this life is all about when it is You, our Savior and Lord. Let us serve others in a way that will have them ask about Jesus Christ. Let us love each other passionately. Help the servant leader missionaries going to the Olympics reach others for Christ. Make opportunities for them to witness and spread your word within unreached countries through “incidental” contacts that were in your plan before time began. Help us to be faithful to pray. We are so lacking in prayer for our missionaries! Forgive me when my prayers sound like the Santa lists my kids give me in November. Forgive me when I am self centered. Forgive me when I care more about physical illness that cannot destroy a soul more than spiritual illness that leads to death. Call Christians to pray like never before. Let us dream dreams and have visions of you as we beg you to hasten the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ! The whole earth groans with sin and we need you desperately to intervene. Let Your message reach the ends of the earth. OUr hearts, lives, mouths, and keyboards resound with praises to you, our Lord Jesus Christ! You are amazing! I love you! Call Christians to this website today to pray!
I love you, Lord. In Jesus name. Amen.
If you will commit to pray for the Olympics and all Christians evangelizing in the Olympics, please post!