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With so much busy-ness and so many distractions in life, good listening typically doesnt happen by accident; it takes a decision, diligence, and discipline. Being a good listener is not necessarily a trait that comes naturally to us. Oswald Sanders noted that, Too many strong personalities are compulsive talkers. Many philosophers and sages down through the centuries have made the simple observation that God gave us one mouth and two ears. Is there a lesson in that?

Effective listening is a powerful and often overlooked tool in our personal growth and professional development, and is necessary if we are to provide quality ministry to others. There are three areas where we should seek to be proficient in our listening:
  • Devotional Listening Facilitates Personal Enrichment
  • Relational Listening Helps Us Connect With Others
  • Navigational Listening Produces Effective Leadership
Devotional listening is found in young Samuel's statement, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening (1 Samuel 3:10, Amp). As Isaiah acknowledged that the Lord had given him the tongue of the learned, he also stated, he awakens my ear to hear as the learned (Isaiah 50:4). If we want to speak wise things, we need to prepare by listening and observing well.

We all know the importance of the Bible, but hearing from God is more than an intellectual accumulation of scriptural facts. The Author of the Book, the Holy Spirit, desires to take those Bible truths and work them into the very core of our being. This involves more than rote memorization; it involves a meaningful relationship.

A.W. Tozer said, Retire from the world each day to some private spot. Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of Gods presence envelops you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward voice till you learn to recognize it. Francois Fenelon said, it is essential that we acquire the habit of hearkening to His voice and listening so as to lose nothing of what He says to us.

Relational listening communicates value, and is a vital component in building strong and meaningful relationships with others. One individual said, The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them. Another said, The first duty of love is to listen.

A would-be politician approached Justice Oliver Wendell Homes for advice on how to get elected. Holmes replied: "To be able to listen to others in a sympathetic and understanding manner, is perhaps the most effective mechanism in the world for getting along with people, and tying up their friendship for good."

The opposite of this would be true alsoif we want to repel and alienate others, be indifferent and uninterested in their lives and what they have to say. This is why Dale Carnegie said, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years of trying to get other people interested in you."

Navigational listening enables a leader to gather essential information to make informed and accurate decisions. It is said that General Dwight Eisenhower would not make a tactical decision until he found someone who strongly opposed it, and then he heard them out. He wanted to see any weaknesses before proceeding.

Bill Gates, founder and CEO of Microsoft, commented, Sometimes I think my most important job as CEO is to listen for bad news. If you dont act on it, your people will eventually stop bringing bad news to your attention. And that's the beginning of the end." Of course, we need to have discretion and discernment about what information we receive and what information we reject. As one individual remarked, The two quick ways to disaster are to take nobody's advice and to take everybody's advice.

Copyright © Tony Cooke Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Tony Cooke
Web site: Tony Cooke Ministries
 
Since 2002, Tony and Lisa have traveled full-time with an assignment of “Strengthening Churches and Leaders.” Tony’s passion for teaching the Bible has taken him to forty-six states and twenty-six nations. Tony, and Lisa reside in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and are the parents of two adult children, Laura and Andrew.
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