A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.  He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame.  Proverbs 18:2, 13

Years ago we lived at a ministry in the mountains of Dahlonega. My son, who was five, had a girl playmate the same age. The people who ran the ministry had two sheepdogs—one black and one white. The black one, Buffy, went missing, and the woman was really upset about what may have happened to her dog. Finally, after three days, the dog was found in a dried up well too deep for him to be able to get out on his own. Here is the sad part of the story (no, the dog was fine): Ben and his friend, Joy, had been saying for two days that they saw a gorilla in a hole. Of course, we totally disregarded what they were saying …made-up stories, for sure. Only they weren’t making it up. If we had stop and listened to them, we would have found the dog 2 days earlier!

     In a book called, Listening to Others, by Joyce Hugget, she calls listening a powerful form of ministry:

“If you listen to me, I feel valued, you give me your time, acceptance—something I may never have had—and a relationship with another human being—something I may have problems with. You share the burden of my grief, my loneliness, my frustration, my indecision, my guilt. I’ve been alone with it so far. You let me think my thoughts aloud and sometimes, that way, I find answers—or at least discover where to look for them.”

     I wish I had learned this as my kids were growing up and prayed for it when communicating felt fraught with land mines and egg shells. They didn’t need principles for living. What they needed was to feel loved and valued and accepted—flaws and all.

*Who needs you to listen? Will you ask God to help you hear them?

God, You know the people around me that I feel inadequate to relate to—will you speak to me about what they are really trying to say? Teach me, Lord. I am listening. I ask this because You love and listen to me, Amen.

The Way Counseling
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