“The first duty of love is to listen” – Paul Tillich

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill
Have you ever been in the presence of someone who is an excellent listener? People who know how to truly listen to others have such a powerful gift of influence. It’s incredible. When you know that someone is not only hearing what you have to say, but trying to understand it, that person makes you feel so loved and appreciated. Personally, someone genuinely listening makes me feel significantly more loved than hearing the actual words I love you. There is just something about another human being giving you their time and full attention, not to tell you what they know about anything and everything, but because they sincerely care about your well being and want to understand you.
In the same way that a person who listens can make us feel loved, someone who is really bad at listening can make us feel unloved and unappreciated. Have you ever been in a situation where you are interacting with someone, or a group of people, and one person just continuously steals away the conversation? It is almost like they just can’t stand the sound of silence long enough to give someone else a chance to speak. If anyone else does try to speak up, this person will speak over top of them. They will carry on their story for so long that you can look around and see others purposefully not paying attention.
The person who ha trouble listening to others may have no intention of doing this, but whether they realize it or not, the message they are sending to those around them is that their words are far more important than anything anyone else has to say. Think about it from a very practical standpoint. If you know someone is a poor listener, how likely are you to open up to them about something important? If you can tell that someone is writing off everything that you say as ignorance, how likely are you to listen and respond to the things they are saying to you?
The bible gives very clear and practical advice on listening. Check out some of these scriptures:
  • If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame – Proverbs 18: 13
  • The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. – Proverbs 12: 15
  • Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; – James 1: 19

I will be the first to admit that I don’t have this listening thing perfected. Sometimes I am great at it, and other times I am the guy sucking the life out of a room because I won’t stop talking. Like every other form of brokeness, we need God’s grace to help us overcome. My challenge to you today is just to try. Make a conscious effort to humble yourself and show someone you love them by intently listening and trying to understand them. It doesn’t matter if you agree with that person or not, it’s just important that you actually understand how they are feeling. In the end, they will feel loved and appreciated, and you will have established a platform to speak into their life.  Who knows, you may just learn something from them as well.

Written by Brian Maisch

I have a heart for setting people free from spiritual bondage and world oppression. I believe that the radical love of God manifested through his people can transform the world, and I believe that journey begins with us on our knees in a place of humble submission to God’s will.

One thought on ““The first duty of love is to listen” – Paul Tillich

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