By Eric Wenger | April 1, 2017
You have likely heard the old proverb, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak." It’s also quite possible that you have said, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Those quotes are often more easily spoken than practiced!
God certainly holds listening in high regard and calls out the sinfulness of not listening. Check out these verses:
“To answer before listening—that is folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13, NIV).
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19, NIV).
How’s your listening? If you are anything like me, you sometimes fail to listen intently. I know that from time to time in my life I have earned the barb from people who encouraged me to get my ears cleaned out or those who liked the idea of putting a piece of tape over my mouth.
In all seriousness, listening is a life-changing gift from God. I really like the following quote from Tony Stoltzfus on this topic. He says, “Expressing acceptance and belief in a person often brings about faster growth than pointing out what is wrong… Listening communicates value and acceptance… Listening is a powerful tool for changing lives.” – (Leadership Coaching, pgs. 144-145). His book also outlines a variety of great ways to assess your listening and grow as an effective listener.
Listening needs to be actively practiced. I have experienced that when teaching life skills to people, during pre-marriage and marriage counseling, when working in situations where there is a need for reconciliation, while helping people work through grief, and in so many more places in my daily life. My opportunity to train as a coach and develop coaching relationships has been invaluable for my growth in active listening. I have seen that in the lives of many other coaches and coaches in training, too!
In 1 Samuel 3:1-10, Eli gave Samuel a lesson in active listening that forever changed his life.
“So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’
Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’” (NIV).
Eli taught Samuel to listen. It changed his life. Samuel went on to deliver God’s life-changing message to many more people.
The C4USM believes that listening is still a life-changing gift from God that is meant to be practiced by servant leaders who are on God’s mission. That is the very reason we offer Mission Coach Certification Training (MCCT). Coaching is one of the very best ways to learn and practice listening to help people discover how to share the gifts that God has given them and to raise up more and more coaches to do the same.
You are invited to be part of the listening team by receiving coaching and/or training as a coach. Feel free to let me know if you are looking for a coach or if you want to be part of our next MCCT coaching cohort. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
God’s blessings as you share God’s life-changing gift of listening!
Questions for Discussion
1. How well do you listen?
2. What kind of distractions get in the way of you being a good listener?
3. What skills do you need to develop in order to increase in your effectiveness as a listener? What will you do next to pursue growth in your listening skills?
4. What person in your life will you ask to help you practice your listening skills? How will you go about asking for his/her help?
5. How could being coached and/or receiving mission coach training help you build up your listening capacity and raise up Christ-centered servant leaders?
6. Challenge: Read “Leadership Coaching” by Tony Stoltzfus and complete the listening assessments in Chapters 11 & 12.
Resources You Can Use
Leadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills, and Heart of a Christian Coach by Tony Stoltzfus, is an essential tool for anyone who wants to learn to coach or improve their coaching skills. Written by a top Christian coach trainer, it is filled with real-life stories, practical tools and application exercises that bring coaching techniques to life.
Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website: www.c4usm.org
Center for U.S. Missions – Contact Information
Email us at: | Rev. Dr. Peter Meier, Executive Director; email@example.com | Rev. Eric Wenger, Director of Mission Coaching; firstname.lastname@example.org| Kathy Meier, Coordinator; email@example.com | Mil Behnken, Office Manager; firstname.lastname@example.org