BY LEANN DILBECK –
I was given the privilege to speak to a class of young budding journalists recently and was asked for the one best piece of advice I could give them. The advice I gave, I hope, will not only empower them as the next generation of reporters and journalists, but also in life…with whatever career they ultimately decide upon, in their families, in all of their relationships with others, and especially in their spiritual walk. The advice? To listen.
My friends and family will often tell you that I joke frequently about those personalities that are “wired for output only.” Those that are so busy thinking about the next thing they’re going to say that they simply can’t focus on what is being said to them. Or, perhaps they feel what they have to say is far more important. Listening simply doesn’t come as easy for some.
To be an effective storyteller, I believe, you do have to “output” or communicate well but I also believe to do that job effectively, respectfully, and accurately, you FIRST also have to listen well.
Especially for those “feature” type stories when someone trusts you with their life story or a life-altering event, there is usually a deeper story to be told than just a time-line. To attempt to capture that and the emotions with words requires listening…relating beyond the words spoken.
But when you think about it, to be successful in life in general, not with job titles or offices, but in relationships…listening is one of the most important skills there is. As a parent, as a spouse, as a friend…take time to listen and listen beyond the words spoken.
To grow in maturity and in our spiritual life, we must listen continuously. Listen to godly counsel. Listen to our Heavenly Father. Listen to the Holy Spirit. And to listen…you first have to stop talking. Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.”
I’ve heard it said that listening is a learned skill. I believe it becomes much easier as we mature and especially when we mature spiritually because in doing so, Christ is transforming us to be more in His image. Therefore, we become more genuinely and naturally empathetic and concerned for those around us than we are to be continually talking about ourselves or our opinions.
As we mature, we learn to value His wisdom and the godly counsel of those around us. We become humbled to know we must seek “input” and not always focus on the “output.” “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Proverbs 12:15
While some argue listening is “learned,” others can also argue that learning to hold your tongue is discipline. James 1:19 says “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”
The maturity process, intellectually or spiritually, never stops. And as we do, the hunger should NEVER go away for His wisdom and knowledge and discernment. Proverbs 19:27 reminds us that no matter how mature we become, we must continually keep our hearts open…and remain hungry to hearing from the wisdom of our Heavenly Father, “Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge…”
I believe as we learn to hear our Heavenly Father speak to us in His quiet still voice as He does, it also enables us to listen to others more effectively. We learn to slow down and focus on others more than ourselves. So many times, the bigger story or the immense pain or the real joy is far beyond the words spoken. The words must fall upon ears that are connected to a heart that seeks to feel and experience beyond what they hear.
All for His glory –