Yesterday, in a great offering from #OffTheHighway guest, Jon Huckins, we were treated to a discussion on listening. Not just listening but the presence and power of listening within a missional life in the neighborhood. Priceless.
Now, only the biggest of piss-pots is going to say that listening is bad. Right? What kind of a monkey-spleen is going to suggest that listening is destructive or generally a bad practice? No one… unless you happen to know someone that does just happen to be a monkey-spleen… if so please leave a picture of this person in the comments below.
But WHY? Why is listening positive?
There are several governing philosophies:
ONE: it is nice. Sure, everybody wants to be a nice person. So we bite our tongue and let the other person talk. It is often a matter of measured behavior. Sit with an open posture. Smile occasionally. Nod appropriately. Put your cell phone away. And maybe ask a few thoughtful follow-up questions. Well done. You are nice.
TWO: it is tactical. Many religious people know that part of their purpose on the planet is to participate in God’s proclamational work in the world. This means telling people the good news. The challenge is to get the other person to listen to us. Well there is a shrewd and effective way to entice someone to listen… the simple practice of quid pro quo. Or: I listen to you and in doing so, you will need to also listen to me or else you will come off looking like a monkey-spleen. Bam!
THREE: it is loving and generative. If you get a chance, check out Curt Thompson’s book Anatomy of the Soul. Curt is a counselor and a neurologist and his fantastic research suggests that there are few things more personally healing and spiritually generative in the soul and mind of a person, then when they are empathically listened to. The greatest gift you can give to another person may be to just shut up and genuinely listen to their stories with no alternative agenda.
FOUR: I need to be saved and the other person may be God’s voice to me. So, there it is. The other shoe drops. Mr. Huckins, a God-fearing, peace-proclaiming, Christian leader suggested in this #OTH video that it might be the Christian who needs to learn the gospel anew and the neighbor (regardless of their spiritual perspective) might actually be God’s mouthpiece. By listening to the other with a heart of openness, I might be saved anew. Praise be to God.
There is an ancient prayer, centuries old, and part of it goes like this:
Christ as a light, illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield, overshadow me. Christ under me. Christ over me. Christ beside me on my left and on my right. This day be within and without me. Holy and meek, yet all-powerful. May He be in the heart of each to whom I speak. May He be in the mouth of each who speaks unto me…
The Lord bless you and keep you.