Why is listening such a struggle?
Listening doesn’t come easily for most people. We often struggle shutting down the voices in our heads or ignoring the distractions around us. Listening is a struggle for me when:
- I’m judging what a person is saying.
- I’ve already come up with a solution.
- I’m relating everything to myself.
- I’m impatient.
- I’m afraid of the silence that might happen if I wait to formulate a response.
- I’ve got a “one-up” story I just have to tell.
- I want to impress others and show my intelligence.
- I have to be right.
- I’m uncomfortable with what others are saying.
- I’m tired or hungry or both and just can’t focus.
Getting outside of what’s going on in our lives and truly focusing on others is a struggle that I think most people, perhaps everyone, has.
Seeing Value Is the Key
Christ gives tremendous value to every person, and listening is one way I can embrace that value (Psalm 139:13-16). Even if someone is talking a lot about nothing, they may be expressing unfulfilled needs for love and acceptance. They just want to know that what they think and feel matters.
Listening seems counter-cultural in a society that touts instant gratification, speaking up for yourself, and standing up for your needs, wants, and desires. Yet, Jesus’ life exemplifies living counter-culturally and that the way of the Father is often not the way of culture. We must choose the narrow way (Matthew 7:13).
Perhaps if we truly understand that No Man is An Island, we can better practice the tenants of scripture that exhort the importance of truly hearing what others are saying. In other words, as we find ways to learn and grow as individuals, the body as a whole becomes stronger.
As we move from just knowing that listening is important to God to living His instructions for listening (James 1:19) in our attitudes, actions, and words, we further develop the deep roots and cohesiveness that Christ prayed for His body to have (John 17:20-26). At the same time, we express value to an individual and show them in a tangible way that they matter.