I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?

Have you ever been caught in a conversation where your mind wandered and you missed what the other person was saying? I think we’ve all been there, and the pace of communication today does not help. Instant messages, texts, and social media alerts interrupt us throughout the day, and sometimes even keep face-to-face interaction at bay. Some people even go for days without having an actual conversation with another human being. Our society is growing increasingly disconnected.

Listening, really listening well, is becoming a lost art.

In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says: Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Jesus wasn’t only talking about the poor, the hungry, and the imprisoned. He’s also talking about the people we meet and greet every day.

Imagine the difference you could make just by listening to someone!

We tend to think of sharing our faith as a proclamation, but really it’s a conversation. It needs to be less about talking and more about listening. Meet the person where they are and then, seek to connect them to God. Listen to their questions, be honest with your answers (admitting it if you have none), and seek to ask them questions that will help you know what their needs, hopes, and desires are. Dig a little deeper, demonstrating your genuine interest in them.

You have a very important message to share, but conversations are a two-way street. You can’t expect to communicate well if you do not know how to listen! Your goal is to help the person come to understand Christ’s love and the new life he offers us. By intentionally listening to someone, you are communicating love, value, and respect. You also discover what aspects of Christ’s message they need to hear most. Sharing the hope of Jesus starts with listening.

Listening is a skill. It takes practice, conscious effort, and a lot of patience. But as with playing hockey or landing a back flip, practice makes perfect. It’s never too late to become a better listener.

updated August 2019

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk