Hospitality, relationships, welcome

Ministry of Listening

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  – Jesus

Closing the door behind them. Whew!woman-opening-door-400x333-1

Hospitality extended to new neighbors. Check.√

The kids and dog did not tear up the house. Check. √√

They enjoyed our favorite meal. Check.√√√

Listen to and learned about our new neighbors… Wait. I don’t remember much about them…their names are Jack and Jill (well probably not, but sounded something like that), but what else had they said? I don’t know, with serving the food, cleaning up the spills, the TV going in the background and the phones buzzing, it did get kind of crazy.

In the busyness of hosting, I can forget it is not just about a clean house and filling their plates. True hospitality is caring for others. Listening is a key way to show we care. Talking comes so natural, we are encourged to talk from birth (Did you hear her first word?!) Listening is not so natural and is much…much more difficult. So the question is, how can we learn to be good listeners? You can always read a book about listening. I have several, in fact. But we really need to learn from the best listener…Jesus.

Listen Like Jesus

The Feast of the Passover was near. Jesus and his disciples were traveling to Jerusalem. We pick up the story below as they are leaving Jericho, with a large crowd of people following.

And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”

The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

They said to Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.”

Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.    Matthew 20:30-34

Five Keys Actions of a Good Listener

Stop.  When Jesus heard the blind men call to him, He stopped. The journey could wait. I am guilty of thinking, “I can multi-task while I listen.” Listen and load the dishwasher, check my Facebook page, or watch TV…yeah not really. To be a good listener we need to be willing to stop, put our agenda on hold.

Focus.  Jesus called out to the men. Even surrounded by what was sure to have been a noisy crowd, Jesus focused on these two men. Giving His full attention, He showed concern for them and affirmed their value to Him.

Ask. Jesus, who knows everything, asked a question. He gave these men the opportunity to be heard. We too need to ask open-ended questions to show our interest in the person and what they have to say (tell me about…).

Wait.  Jesus knew what they needed, but He didn’t just “fix” them or interrupt saying, “I know best”. He waited, to let them express themselves. Waiting is hard. Waiting shows the person that I value what you have to say and will wait until you are ready to share.

Respond.  Jesus was moved with compassion. He responded in a way that brought healing to these men. We cannot physically heal. Yet, listening helps us to connect with a person at their point of need. We can respond with words of encouragement and grace, that can bring healing to their heart.

The ministry of listening has been committed to us by Him who is Himself the great listener. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the  word of God.                                                             Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together


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