Life Notes—March 7, 2013
“Mortal, you are living in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, who have ears to hear but do not hear…” Ezekiel 12:2
Most of the time I am not a particularly good listener. My default mode is to listen only long enough to someone else until I think I have the gist of their point, and then to either finish their thought for them or begin mentally preparing my insightful response. I hate it when people do that to me, and I am sure you do, too. And yet, I persist. It is as if I am so busy I do not have time to allow another person the courtesy to finish verbalizing what is on their mind. Or that I want to illustrate how brilliant I am. In the process, I simply show that I am neither smart nor insightful. I show that I am rude.
There is a physician I work with on occasion who is an amazing listener. He lets me speak until I have finished before he begins to respond. When he begins to speak it is often to confirm his understanding of what I have said. It feels good to know you have been heard and understood. Of course, this physician has taught me that just because someone hears and understands you does NOT mean they agree with you. He and I have butted heads on many issues. But he has always shown me the courtesy to hear me out.
One of the seven habits listed in Stephen Covey’s best-seller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This is such a simple and profound statement, yet so difficult to put into practice, at least for some of us. But listening is a habit we can and should develop. Jesus said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” (Mark 4:23). A bit of folk wisdom says, “God gave us two ears and one mouth that we might listen more and speak less.” Even so, my internal dialogue runs non-stop most of the time. Voices in my head debate and drone on and on about what are often petty and irrelevant thoughts. Psalm 46:10 tells us to “be still, and know that I am God!” But if my internal dialogue is always running, how can I possibly hear—let alone understand—what another is teaching me? The truth is, I cannot. I have much to learn from God. I have much to learn from others. Yet, I will learn nothing until I learn to attentively listen to voices and insights other than my own. Of course, I worry if I don’t express a thought right away I will forget it; yet my wife and friends assure me much of what comes out of my mouth would have been better left unsaid, anyway!
This Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Lent. Tom is preaching downtown, where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00. Mitch preaches at the west campus where worship is at 9:00 and 11:00. The sermon at both campuses is “Give Up Running Away for Lent,” based on Luke 9:10-17.
Come home to church this Sunday. Listen for the word of God in the voices of others.
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator