Oh! Were You Talking To Me

Photo by Cristina Gottardi

Last week we kicked our series with The Cat In The Dryer. That blog came straight out of our 3 Minute Survey results and launched us into this series on relationships. The feedback was encouraging and the confession on the FaceBook Page was awesome!

So let’s dive in and get encouraged, reminded, and maybe even learn some new things. Relationships: Sometimes you can’t live with them and sometimes you can’t live without them. Let’s face it, we are all in relationships unless you are a hermit and if you are it’s not healthy so move back to town. For those of us already back in town and in relationships, I bet we could all use a little help at being better in those relationships. Amen, clap clap, Yes, Lord.

There is one thing I have learned the importance of the hard way. It is so important that I have taught it in many contexts from leadership, students and marriage and pre-marital counseling. That is communication and particularly Listening. It is so important because if you cannot listen it will break down communication and it will affect your relationships, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. By the way, these principals work in business, with friends, with significant others including spouses, boy/girl friends, friends in general and some pets. Here are some things that can help.

Listen To Understand
Listening to understand means you are trying to comprehend what is being said. It is about clarity and getting the point of what the other person is saying. Here is how it works.
• Look the person in the eye
• Shut your mouth
• Open your ears (external and internal)
• Turn off the TV
• Put the phone down.
• Listen and repeat back what you understood to be said in a gentle and thoughtful tone.
See your marriage just got better. Please make all payments to…

Seriously, getting in the habit of listening to understand will make life better for everyone. Ladies, I know you just forwarded this to your husbands and that is fine, we need it. But, this is for you as well. Listening to understand will help you with your man, children, and friendships.

Listen Without An Agenda
This one bugs me. Someone asks you a question and they are baiting you. You start to talk, and they jump in almost immediately with no real intention of listening. Save us all the time just tell me what the heck you want to say. What bugs me the most is I know I have done this before, especially with my kids. I know, “big jerk” right? If you have a question, listen to understand first and then talk. You might be looking for the answer to something, but the answer you have formulated in your head may not be the answer at all.
How many millions of dollars have been lost on preconceived ideas that were wrong when others held the real answer. Instead, it was just overlooked or dismissed. How many marriages could have been saved if someone would have gone across the line of divide and just listened?

Listen without judgment
Good Grief! Withhold judgment. Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” A formulated judgment can be a dangerous thing. Better to listen, understand, and deal with reality than fly off the handle. Trust me, I am a fly off the handle guy, and that junk can bring devastation. If you have a flashy temperament or are just a judgmental Pharisee, this one is for you. Your quick judgment is often a sign of a deeper issue of pride. I deal with this in the chapter on Self Go Disciple.  Withhold judgment until you have heard what the person is saying.
Again, I have learned this the hard way. You learn early on in counseling to not just take action based on hearing one side of the story. Listen to both sides. What you often find is that there are three sides to every story…His, hers, and the truth somewhere in the middle.

Listen as an act of love
Here is the bottom line. If you are going to follow Jesus, there will be a denial of self, a willingness to take up our cross, and then following Jesus. This is what following Him actually looks like. I love this part because here is where the truly empowered life happens. When you get to the place where you say, “It’s not about me” and you are willing to move forward sacrificially and yielded to the Spirit of God, powerful life-giving things happen…resurrection things!

This afternoon my son Samuel and I were in a sporting goods store. We were looking for mats for our new totally awesome gym equipment, which our friends Billy and Stephanie bought for us! As we were looking, a sales guy came up and started talking to us and then proceeded to show us his home gym on his phone. This led to a deeper discussion about an accident he had. Samuel and I were in a hurry, hungry, and trying to get to his friend’s house to pick him up. But, with all that going on, I sensed the need to shut up and listen. Thankfully, I did. Long story short, we talked about the Lord’s will, about going to church on that the next weekend, which he said he was going to do for the first time in a while, and I told him I would pray for him. With tears in his eyes and thanked me for listening.
So many times, we put our own desires above that of others, but when we listen to the Lord and move with his rhythm and desires, he leads us to places of sacrifice. BUT, in the end, the sacrifice is small compared to the blessing of being used to love and care for others.

So, when it is your turn to listen, ask the Lord for strength to live sacrificially. You cannot do it in your own power. Then watch as the Lord uses you to help someone along his or her journey. Trust me. Listening is the key that unlocks hearts…including yours. Love you guys! Chad

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