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Humble Listening

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9


Humble listening is both science and art. Science, because there are common occurrences in effective communication. Eye contact, emotional engagement and comprehension all contribute to listeners who truly understand. Humble listening is an art as well, because people differ in their experiences, ability to communicate clearly, and limitations based upon their biased interpretation of their own feelings.
Therefore, as a humble listener we see ourselves as servants seeking to truly understand another’s heart and mind. We listen to their words for inflections of emotion. We may sense excitement in a high-pitched voice, or anger in a tone of defensiveness. Fear floods out of shaky speech and apathy is evident in monotone words with a deadpan face. Compassion comprehends these indicators of the heart. Yes, humility diagnoses emotions.
“I waited while you spoke, I listened to your reasoning; while you were searching for words, I gave you my full attention.” Job 32:11-12a
A loving listening ear is a valuable gift you give to those the Lord puts in your path. Do you hear the hurt in your husband or wife’s heart? Are your ears engaged with empathy in prayerful patience, before suggesting solutions? As you listen well, you represent Christ well. As you listen well, you love well. As you listen well, you honor well. Humble listening waits patiently so as not to run ahead of hearing well—it gives space to the process.
Most of all, a servant of the Lord is sensitive to the voice of the Lord. We humbly submit to His speech expressed in Holy Scripture and confirmed by the Holy Spirit in prayer. Godly counsel also validates the voice of God. Lastly, people or institutions in authority over us are a mouthpiece for our Master Jesus. His established authorities are boundaries for our protection and progress. So, listen to and obey the law of the Lord and the law of the land. Indeed, humility is slow to speak, quick to listen and always ready to serve.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the grace, patience and discernment to listen well.
Related Readings: Psalm 34:11; Proverbs 10:19; John 5:24; James 3:3-12
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