My Dad told me once that a good listener makes a good friend. And I either read it somewhere or it’s more wisdom from my Dad but I’ve also heard it said that people often remember those who listen well as good conversationalists.
I wonder, how good are we at listening? Really listening? Whom do we listen to and why does it matter?
I know, one weekend story times 25 students equals a period or two. But perhaps you can make sure you hear each child in your class every day? Many teachers use name cards to call out students to share their thoughts rather than just listening to a select few who are confident enough to put their hand up.
Small teaching groups are also precious for this very reason. Though you should have a clear learning goal for each session, this is also a great time to see where students take conversations.
Need some teaching advice? There is much we can learn from our students.
Good ideas come from all directions, are we listening or are we too set on our ways? Or are we merely waiting for our turn to speak? My colleague Jen is my quintessential example of a humble listener. Because she values people and what they have to say, she’s able to pick out gold even from a comment mentioned in passing.
Won’t life be so much easier if we were always on the same page, always agreeing? God knows best though and He knows there is growth to be had in every tension, every conflict. Not every disagreement matters but for those that do, we must be prepared to hear where the other person is coming from and what the heart of the issue is.
Disagreements allow us to articulate our passions even clearer and explain our reasons in a logical, well-supported manner. Conflict is also a lesson in humility and grace.
‘Listening with our eyes’ is a phrase from a book on ‘social smarts’. Listening is not limited to our sense of hearing. Let’s make time to observe both students and colleagues. A student who’s struggling with a concept may not want to admit it so we listen with our eyes, study their body language and see that fraction of a second where they hesitate.
Sermons or messages on ‘living for an audience of One’ always resonate with me, a reminder that what matters most is that we listen to Him who holds our every breath in His hands. It’s a radical thought to seek only one person’s approval in your life but if that One is Jesus, it makes sense. When we listen to Him, read His Word and what He has to say, I believe we naturally listen more to those around us and value each as we should. Every person we encounter has been made by God, in the image of God. Each person matters to Him.
Are we listening?
‘You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry... don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.’
James 1:19, 22-24