Listening is a very important skill to getting to know the people in your group.
When you listen well, you will discover what someone believes about God, themselves and the world they live in. In Acts 8, Philip listened carefully to the Ethiopian eunuch and was able to answer the very question he asked, meeting his ultimate need. Let’s look at some scripture that reveals the importance of listening.
Proverbs 18:13 (NIV)
He who answers before listening—
that is his folly and his shame.
James 1:19 (NIV)
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
John 10:27 (NIV)
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
Proverbs 1:5 (NIV)
Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.
Deuteronomy 30:20 (NIV)
...and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Proverbs 18:2 (NIV)
A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.
Here are some questions to think through as a leader that will help you understand the heart behind the skill:
What do these verses teach us about listening?
What are some traits of a good listener?
How do you feel when someone listens well to you?
What is your response to these feelings?
What are the hindrances to feeling safe? (What makes us feel unsafe or brings up our walls?)
Which of these would be your top two hindrances?
What is going on in me when I am an offensive listener? (An offensive listener may be; insensitive, agenda driven, utilitarian approach, ‘what can I get the other person to do or how do I tell them what I know?’)
What keeps me from being a good listener?
Just listening can be uncomfortable so we tend to do the above things. How I feel as a leader is not the point. I need to listen, making the other person my focus instead of trying to make myself feel more comfortable.
By listening, we can earn the right to speak into someone’s life where otherwise they would be a closed book!