Becoming a Worthy Listener

“Gather Co-Listeners” is one of my favorite chapters in Emily P. Freeman’s latest book, The Next Right Thing.

In it, Emily shares how, in the midst of transition and all the questions that came with it, she and her husband invited a few trusted friends in different stages of life to simply listen to their words and see what they had to say. Although they weren’t asking for advice, they were open to it.

She says, “We wanted people we loved and trusted to hear what we were saying, to see if there was something obvious we were missing, and to be with us in the midst of our uncertainty.”

Their friends listened, asked questions, and prayed for them. They even agreed to do it again a few months later. Emily goes on to share how God used their community of co-listeners to eventually help make her husband’s next step clear. They didn’t sit around complaining about how people weren’t showing up in their time of need. Instead, Emily and her husband prayerfully and intentionally sought out co-listeners to join them on their journey.

She shares more details in her FABulous book, so while you wait for your copy to arrive (or possibly win one here!), here are three simple things Emily suggests you keep in mind if gathering your own group of co-listeners:

  • “One, do it on purpose. …There’s something powerful about gathering people specifically for the purpose of listening, asking questions, and reflecting.”
  • “Two, the co-listeners don’t have to know one another, but they all need to know you well.”
  • “Finally, you have to ask them.”

Brian and I have shared in a small setting, but I can’t say we’ve ever intentionally invited others over to simply listen. That might just be our next right thing! Thanks, Emily.

 

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Becoming a Worthy Co-Listener

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” – Karl A. Menninger

 

Think back to the last time you felt listened to — How did it make you feel?

  • Understood?
  • Loved?
  • Connected?
  • Relieved?
  • Healed?

Chances are your listener possessed one or all of these fundamental elements:

 

A Godly Motivation

 

Several years ago when Brandon, our oldest son, and his new bride, Megan, called to ask if they could come over for a few minutes, we knew something was up. Turns out, he was offered a position as a worship pastor in Ohio. You know, the eight-hours-away-Ohio.

At that moment, my flesh wanted to cry out, “No, please don’t leave!” but quietly below the chaotic flesh was the remembrance of inked lines in my prayer journal where I often asked God to use our boys for His glory. Although this mama’s heart struggled, trying to hold on for all the wrong reasons was not going to happen.

{I wish I always listened with two ears and a heart bent toward heaven, but I don’t.}

So before agreeing to be a co-listener in any setting, maybe we would be wise to ask God to search our hearts first.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23, 24

If we find ourselves waiting for the person to hurry and finish up so we can one-up her, or tell her about our experience (that we thought of while she was sharing), or give advice based on anything but God’s truth, we may want to stay here for a while and soak.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4 ESV

 

Spiritual Maturity in Action

 

Since joining our church last year, I’m reminded of how spiritual maturity has little to do with age. Our small group consists mostly of young couples and college-aged students. I marvel at their wisdom and knowledge of the Word. But I’m especially inspired by the tenacity in which they seek to grow in their faith.

Speaking the truth in love, birthed from a godly motivation, benefits the body of Christ, whether we co-listen in a group setting or over a lavender latte in the local cafe. *wink*

Rather, speaking truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ… Ephesians 4:15

 

Embrace the Ministry of Listening

 

“Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I’d never considered listening as a ministry, but it’s true, isn’t it? When we listen well, we make ourselves available to share in the work of Christ, lending the ears of God and the power of the Word to those who seek it.

 

So much of Emily’s book has inspired me to reclaim forgotten truths, like the beauty discovered in a listening ear.

The Next Right Thing

If you would like to have an opportunity to win a copy of **The Next Right Thing, by Emily P. Freeman, simply share one way you would like to improve your listening skills in the comment section below.

**This is an affiliate link which means if you purchase this book by clicking the link above, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. {Savin’ for that latte!}

Soli Deo Gloria! (Glory to God Alone)

{Tiny House on the Hill subscribers: Be sure to check your inbox tonight. Your Monthly Letter includes the first peek of our flooring choice for the tiny house, specific ways to pray for children as they head back to school, and ways to use a simple picnic basket to remind people of God’s love. I appreciate you so much!}

 

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