From Trevor Hudson’s book A Mile in My Shoes: Cultivating Compassion.
We grow toward Christlikeness as we become more caring. A non-caring Christ-follower is a contradiction in terms. However, we cannot show real concern, especially for those in pain, unless we first take time to listen.
We can only love those to whom we genuinely listen.
For this reason, if we intend to put our lives alongside those who suffer and reflect to them the compassion of Christ, our presence must always be a listening one. This could be why James encouraged his readers to “be quick to listen, slow to speak” (James 1.19).
Christians are not well known for their listening.
Often our own inability to listen well has made others feel isolated, unaccepted, and unloved. Thankfully, we can all learn to listen better. While few people seem naturally gifted as listeners, most of us need to develop this vital gateway to compassion. Few activities require as much energy, effort, and patience. Involving at least three basic steps, good listening enables us to grow in the Compassionate Way.
1. Stop Talking.
2. Give total attention to the one speaking.
3. Communicate understanding of what is shared.
Against the backdrop of these basic guidelines, I invite you to asses the quality of your current listening ability.
Growing in self-awareness about our listening ability often initiates a fresh commitment to become a better listener. Here are ten straightforward yes or no questions to consider. A positive answer to any number of them could challenge you to develop more consciously a listening heart.
Am I known as a chatterbox?
Do I interrupt others in mid-sentence?
Do I “switch off” when I disagree with what’s being said?
Do I complete other people’s sentences?
During conversations am I often preoccupied with my own thoughts and feelings?
Do I plan my answer while others speak?
Do I fear silence in conversations?
Do I tend to jump in with my own story and take over instead of listening?
Am I often impatient while listening?
Do those closest to me often complain that I don’t listen?