I read a verse this morning that reinforces my life’s aim to be a listener. It says that… those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the LORD will be joyful (Proverbs 16:20). Almost everyone can hear… the real question is… are you listening?
What’s the difference? As I see it hearing is the ear’s ability to process words. Whereas listening is the ability to process the meaning and intention of those words.
For me this extends far beyond listening only to those I agree with. I lived much of my life in a system that seemed threatened by voices that were outside itself. Truth is truth. If something is true it cannot be diminished by aberrant voices. In fact, my opinion is that a willingness to listen to others validates the credibility of my message. Truth is not weakened or threatened by listening.
Finally I think listening demonstrates love. A willingness to be attentive to the positions of others shows them that I respect their history and care for them as a person. For those of us who say we follow Jesus I would suggest that this is exactly what God was up to when He sent Jesus… God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).
So go listen to someone today. Face to face is best. But if you’re not ready for that, try reading someone that you know you don’t agree with. Instead of reading to find fault… listen to gain perspective. I dare you.