Learning to Listen with an Open Heart

21 Oct

 Can You Hear Me Now?


“Huh” and “What” can be two of the most frustrating words in the English language. This is especially true if they follow every single thing you happen to say to your children. I have most definitely had to deal with my fair share of this so called “selective hearing loss” with each of my children. In fact, I have witnessed the inability or unwillingness to hear what is being said turn into a nasty habit that automatically rears its ugly head in every conversation.

A while back, during a family sit down meal, my daughter voiced her frustrations with her youngest brother over this very matter in a humorous way. She said, “The way Levi listens, I might as well as well repeat everything I say twice.” Followed one second later by her saying, “The way Levi listens, I might as well repeat everything I say twice.” To which Levi replied with a sheepish grin, “Huh?” The entire family had a good chuckle, but the lack of communication in the home is honestly no laughing matter.

Why? I believe David Augsburger hit the nail on the head when he said,

“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.”  When we are heard, we feel valued by another, and that translates to feeling loved.”

Hearing and listening are closely related, but in all actuality, are two completely different things. Hearing is the ability to perceive sound, while listening is the ability to pay attention to what is being said in order to understand, heed, or obey. Listening is a skill, and as such, can be improved. The fact is, it does not take a college degree to become a better listener. It is as simple as putting the following into practice.

  • Put Your Listening Ears On And Zip Your Lips! 

 Did you realize that “the word listen contains the exact same letters as the word silent”?(Alfred Brendel)

You cannot possibly take in words for understanding if you never allow the speaker to get a word in edgewise. We have two ears and one mouth for a very important reason!

Ecclesiastes 3:7 reminds us that there is,

“a time to keep silent and a time to speak”.

Hear Me

  • Pay Attention, Please!

There are various external and internal distractions that can rob us of our ability to focus while listening to others. We are, after all, a society that is literally “plugged in”. Laptops, tablets, and smart phones are the norm instead of the exception. These devices can be helpful but can very easily become consumers of our attention. This can become a huge problem if they cause our relationships to suffer due to an attention deficit. In much the same way, our emotions can cause us to be poor listeners or to misinterpret the words we hear. We must not allow fear, worry, or anger to be an impediment to our communicating with others.

  • Can I Get A Thumbs Up?

Body language is a much underestimated tool when it comes to the skill of listening. Nothing tells the speaker that we are listening as well as maintaining eye contact with them. On the other hand, fidgeting, glazed eyes, and clock watching tell them that what they have to say is not nearly as important as our time. Similarly, a simple nod of the head or the word yes is just the affirmation needed to convey complete interest in what is being said.

Now, let’s take our new and improved listening skills and apply them to our homes. Just because we tend to ease into our comfort zone with family members, we should never be lax when it comes to listening to one another. It is important to remember:

  • Children Must Listen To Parents

Proverbs 1:8 tells us,

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” (NIV)

We also read in Proverbs 19:27,

“Stop listening to my instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

We need to teach our children from an early age that listening to their parents is mandatory and not optional. Instruction on listening begins in the home and becomes the foundation for molding the will and teaching respect for authority.

  • Parents Must Listen To Children

Come again? Yes, you read that correctly. How can we expect our children to be good listeners if we are not modeling the same behavior?

Psalm 103:13 reminds parents,

“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion on those who fear him.”

Listening to our children voice their accomplishments, fears, and concerns is a way to show them that we love them and they are important. If we do not listen to our children, we run the risk of breaking their spirit.

Colossians 3:21 warns,

“Fathers do not provoke your children to wrath lest they become discouraged.” I honestly believe we discourage our children a great deal if we fail to listen to them.

Listen to Family

  • Parents Must Listen To Each Other

Okay.  I will admit that this one can be tough at times.

Calvin Coolidge said,

“It takes a great man to be a good listener.”

We can very easily replace the word man with woman in this quote. So many times in our desire to be heard by our spouse we forget to listen. If we truly love one another, we will purpose to be attentive. In doing so, we encourage one another, strengthen our marriage, and in turn, reinforce to our children the benefits of being a good listener.

  • The Family Must Listen To God

This is the ultimate reason we must work on being good listeners. It is the reason we teach these skills to our children and continue to hone them for the rest of our lives. Have you ever stopped to consider the very first step in the plan of salvation is to hear?

Romans 10:17 says,

“So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

How many times while on earth did our Lord utter, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 11:28)

He also said, “Whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

Terry Williams has a profound take on listening. She said,

“The unexpected action of deep listening can create a space of transformation capable of shattering complacency and despair.”

When we learn to listen deeply to our Father, we are compelled to act upon His Word. Through this, we become transformed shattering despair by being filled with the hope of His promise.

“And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:15)

Listening is transforming and allows us to answer with a resounding yes when asked, “Can you hear me now?”


~~ This Article Written by our Newest Team Member: Shanna Mathis Anderson

1 Comment

Posted by on October 21, 2013 in Encouragement, Faithfulness, Family, Parenting


Tags: , ,

One response to “Learning to Listen with an Open Heart

  1. morninglory74

    October 21, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Shanna, what a beautifully written article to begin my morning devotional with. I am thanking God for your ability to clearly share this biblical principle that we can practice everyday to make ourselves better listeners. I admire those that are slow to speak and seem to absorb everything they have heard before commenting. May God bless you for sharing with all of us today.


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