Archive for the ‘Listening’ Tag

Listening   Leave a comment


Image provided by turningpointsearch.net

Image provided by turningpointsearch.net

I think that one of the most difficult things for most of us is truly listening.  I am a person that moves through the day mainly in the order of a task list.  I frequently look at, revise, and add to my task list.  I prioritize those tasks and only feel a sense of accomplishment if I can end the day with all items checked off my task list.  Since my task list drives me, I have very little “down time” in my life.  What unassigned times I do encounter, I fill with usually mindless activity.  The problem with this is that it does not provide time for me to listen.

As a believer, I declare that I have chosen to let the Spirit of God guide my life.  In fact, during my prayer time and during my devotional time each day, I ask the Lord to guide me by the Spirit.  So I make this request at least two times every day.  However, I do not make room for the Spirit.  I do not take time outside those brief, assigned times to listen for the Spirit’s guidance.  I treat my prayer and devotional time as one more task on my list for the day and when I have completed those items, I move on.

However, the Lord tends to occasionally break into my day and cause me to listen even when I do not have time scheduled.  This happened to me this morning.  I was going along with my daily routine and all of a sudden, God showed up.  The Spirit spoke to me at a time when I did not expect it.  It was absolutely wonderful!  The message which the Lord had for me today was very timely and much-needed.

This breaking in on my day set me back on my heels.  It reminded me about what amazing things the Lord had to say to me if I just would listen. It reminded me of a commitment which I made in March of this year to do a better job of spending time to just listen to the Lord.  It reminded me of the great value found in listening.

So today, I recommit myself to that which I said in March….. I WILL take time to listen.  I WILL place listening for the Spirit on my list of items which I need to accomplish.

Will you make a similar commitment?  You may be surprised what you discover.

Advertisements

Reflections   1 comment


sea-and-sky-reflectionDuring my devotional time today, I was given the opportunity to think about the need to take time to reflect.  This is not something many of us do very often.  In a world that is always on the go and in our sense that we need to always be on the move, we do not create times that allow us to reflect on life and on our blessings.  We just celebrated Thanksgiving a few weeks ago and I would venture a guess that even on a day when we are to recall our blessings, many of us were so busy either preparing food, traveling, or engaged in family activities that we had no reflection time or limited at best.

There is great value in taking time to reflect on life.  As mentioned above, reflecting allows us to take inventory of all the great gifts and opportunities we have been given.  As a believer, I attribute these gifts and opportunities to the Lord.  However, in a world which has a growing sense of entitlement, we often take these gifts and opportunities for granted.  We seldom even take notice of what we have received.  We just keep hoping for more.

Reflection time can also help us to gain perspective in our lives.  If we have the opportunity to contemplate and review, we are able to realize where we have come from, where we are, and help shape where we may wish to go.  This can help us to prioritize.

Periods of reflection can also give us opportunity to hear voices that may be overpowered by the noise of a busy life.  I place a lot of importance on listening for the Lord and then following what the Lord shares with me.  However, I cannot listen and hear if I do not spend time in reflection.

I am not one to sit idle.  Some would tell you that I am not one that is silent very often.  However, today I am reminded of the importance of times of reflection.  I hope that you also receive that reminder.  Let us commit to making times for reflection in our lives.  Who knows what we may hear and/or discover.

Continue to Grow   2 comments


Image provided by www.gipom.com

Image provided by http://www.gipom.com

One of the goals that I have for my life is that I will continue to grow.  Now it should be obvious that I am not wishing or expecting growth in my physical attributes (I am too old to grow taller and striving to not to grow rounder).  Instead, I want my growth to occur in the areas of knowledge, perspective, and attitude.  I view this type of growth as being vital to continued life.  The question is how to work on continued growth.  So here are some actions that I take which I perceive help me to grow:

  • Read often (newspapers, books, magazines, blog posts)
  • Listen to others (both those who share your views and those who disagree with your views)
  • Take advantage of opportunities to see different geographical areas (in communities, in our nation, in the world)
  • Experience a variety of volunteer opportunities
  • Create regular times for contemplation

I believe a combination of these actions have helped me to continue a growth process in my life.

What would you add to the list?

Difficult Conversations   2 comments


Sometimes in life we are given the responsibility to have conversations that may be uncomfortable or difficult.  The conversation may be a sensitive matter.  The conversation may be with a person we are close with and whose feelings we would prefer to protect.  The conversation may be with a person who is difficult to deal with and/or someone who is prone to responding very negatively.  Whatever the details of the conversation, we each encounter times when we would prefer not having the conversation at all.  Yet, because of our position or some other responsibility, we must have the conversation.

What do you do?

First, let me state that there is no one “correct” way to have the conversation.  Second, there are skills that you can develop in both listening and communicating which can help to reduce the tension level in the conversation.  However, there are some general guidelines that I have adopted in my experiences of having these conversations.  Here is my list:

  1. Do not enter the conversation with the goal of assigning blame.
  2. Look at the person as a person, not a problem.
  3. Understand that everyone has a different perspective so you need to be open to hearing the other person’s perspective.
  4. Be honest without being mean.
  5. Clarify misunderstandings and/or different perspectives of a situation.
  6. Take ownership of what you can take ownership of and not assume all the aspects as your own.
  7. Maintain your sound level and pace of your words.
  8. Be mindful of your non-verbal communication.

This list is far from exhaustive.

What would you add to this list?

Listening to the Voice   1 comment


Image from almostsavy.com

Image from almostsavy.com

One of the struggles that I face is that sometimes the noise of my life seems so overwhelming.  I think that I am like many others living in a very busy world.  There seems to be so much busyness around me.  There seems to be so many people wanting to tell me something or wanting to ask me something.  This is how our world has become.  With the various methods of communication available to us these days, there seems to be voices around us almost twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  The struggle in all of this is that with all this “noise”, it can be difficult to hear the voice that is inside.

I am becoming aware of the great need to give space to the voice inside myself.  I find that there are times that this voice almost screams to be heard.  As a believer, I believe this voice is the voice of the Spirit.  It is the voice that became a part of me when the Lord claimed me as a child.  It is the voice that brings with it guidance based on who I am.  It is the voice that speaks to me as the unique person I have been created to be.

When I fail to provide opportunity to listen to the voice, I find the result is confusion.  I am left with only the many outside voices that have differing opinions and suggestions.  I am left with the outside voices that can often be so contradicting.  I need to listen for that voice within me.  I need to follow that voice within me.  Because that voice within me is the voice of the Spirit.

Now I am not advocating ignoring the voices of others.  Sometimes the Spirit chooses to speak and guide through the voices of others in our lives.  What I am stating is that those voices without the voice within me creates an unbalance.  So I am going to strive today for balance.  I am going to work at making space for the voice inside me.  I am going to strive to listen to the Spirit.

 

In The Stillness   Leave a comment


English: Stillness Very calm late evening over...

English: Stillness Very calm late evening over Loomer Shun on Saxa Vord. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do you hear in the stillness?  There is not a lot of time in people’s lives any more when a person just is still.  I find myself spending a lot of time on the go.  I sometimes think that I am continually in motion.  In fact, I am not even sure that I am still when I sleep.  However, this morning I took some deliberate time to be still.  In so doing, I heard sounds that I let go unnoticed most of the time….. the clicking of a clock’s second-hand, the rushing of air through a floor vent as the furnace runs, the running of the fan on my laptop.

This has led me to wonder what might be heard if I took more opportunities to be still.  As a believer, I am aware that Scripture talks about stillness.  In the Psalms, the writer of one says, “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10, NIV)  What does it mean to be still enough that the reality of God being God would be clear?

Another story from Scripture comes to my mind.  I am thinking of the story of Elijah who was hiding in a cave for safety while Jezebel was killing all the prophets of God.  This is part of that story:

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

(1 Kings 19:11-13, NIV)

If Elijah had not been still, he would never have heard the gentle whisper of God.  This would have led to Elijah not having the opportunity to receive direction from God.

I think that I underestimate the importance of taking time to be still.  What might I be missing in all of my racing around?  This is definitely an area of growth for me.

Do you take time to be still?  If so, what do you hear?  If not, what are you missing?

Ears to Hear   1 comment


English: Ear. Good for listening.

English: Ear. Good for listening. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I continue to learn the great importance of improving the skill of listening.  I think that this is a skill that almost every person needs to continue to improve upon.  I find that as a leader, the importance is magnified.  Either way, I am not sure that many people really make much of an effort to strengthen their ability to listen.

Let me be clear about how I understand what it means to have the skill of listening.  For me, it is more than just the ability to receive sounds and through those sounds identify the words that are being communicated.  Unless a person has some type of hearing impairment, this skill is one that a person obtains early in life and uses on a regular basis.  However, I find the skill of listening to include much more than this simple definition.  A person with strong listening skills will have the ability to hear what is being said beyond the words.  Some of the ideas being shared are found in what words are not used.  Listening requires a person to read the body language, the tone fluctuations, the changes in volume, the places where emphasis is added.  There is a bit of “reading between the lines” which becomes necessary. This type of listening skill requires much time and practice.  It is a skill that is not “just picked up.”  A person must truly make an effort to develop this skill and to practice it regularly.

There is another type of listening skill that I also must work on as a follower of Christ.  This skill involves using my spiritual ears.  In some ways, this skill development is even more difficult than the one I described above.  This skill requires spiritual growth.  If I am going to hear the words of the Lord, I must be using my spiritual ears to do so.  In order to have spiritual ears, I need to work at becoming mature in my faith so that my spirit can become more in tune with Christ’s Spirit.  The whole thing is a process and much like the physical listening skill development, it requires time, effort, and continual practice.

So my prayer this morning is, “Lord, give me ears to hear.”