The Lost Art of Compassionate Listening

As a reminder our follow-up Difficult Conversation workshop will be November 11 at 4:30 PM. This workshop is for every member. See you and your neighbors at the Spring!

This heart of this workshop is to learn how to listen and share our faith through difficult conversations.  This is a workshop for those who want to grow and expand their ability to relate to and influence in healthy ways, in an atmosphere of broken conversations. (If you ever hear me say that we are holding workshop to lay down the hammer and pound people into submission, you will know I have lost it!) I remind and invite our whole congregation to learn and practice skills of listening to others and sharing our faith. If it’s not difficult to talk about some topics, our closed doors and closed minds, make conversations even more difficult. Let’s learn and re-learn how to listen and how to communicate.

When the all mediums of news and information are filled with bias and agenda we spin off topic and never listen nor get to the heart of the matter. In recent weeks I have been tried having mature and grown-up conversations with very smart and caring people who disagreed with me and rather than stick to the discussion topic made the poor debate tactic of attacking the speaker. If you can stomach listen to a news show that only promotes ideas that are opposite to you own, listen for how many times the conversation is off topic and onto attacking a person. We are having detrimental communication skills drilled into our hearts and minds. It is time to break that cycle.

“Why don’t people just read the Bible?” When our culture hold’s a variety of interpretations of scripture without I clear understanding why we hold the views we treasure, we are in a volatile place of never listen to anyone who does not already agree with us. To paraphrase Dr. Phil our current methods are not working out well for us. Why would follow failing behaviors that are not working is an evil we can no longer ignore.

Why? As an assumed function of sanity and self-preservation most folks are reluctant to tolerate listening to someone who disagrees with our personal views, opinions and ideas. First because everything is a rant or given the status of game-changing importance. Second, we have grown suspect that if we let are guard down someone will weaken our resolve and core beliefs. When we reach the point that we are so certain that we cannot tolerate listening to someone different we will never success in sharing our faith.

The Main Point: The heart of our work as the church is to reach the world with the Good News of God’s involvement and sharing work in the real world. The church is under attack and as the body of Christ many folks have given in to avoid the struggle. As a result, the world around us sounds more hopeless and fearful because we don’t even hear ourselves sharing the hope and power God entrusts in us.

Whenever you feel the urge to tune out or correct someone who has a broken, world view, take that as a time to begin listening with the ears of God. Consider these verses of scripture: Isaiah 43:8 Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf; Matthew 13:16But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. ;  Acts 28:27 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’; Mark 8:18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?

Get out the Q-tips! I ask you to clear out the assumptions and fears that block of from listening to God and from listening to our neighbors, and from listening to ourselves. We have much to learn;  we will practice what it means to constructively be those who have eyes that see and ears that listen. In addition to scripture, we will also be drawing on the work of John Savage: Listening & Caring Skills in Ministry. Listening is the primary mode of “being with another person.” When we don’t have a clear ability to listen we will be able to reach each other.

I look forward to you participating in our follow-up on Nov. 11 at 4:30 PM. Bring a friend or neighbor and we will work on hearing so that we will know better how to speak and share the Good News.

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