You Tube has a mixed bag of videos on basic listening skills. This short one, "Effective Listening Skills" is amongst the better of them. The presenter makes six great points around the acrostic LISTEN. It runs out after 2' 30" - the last 50" is promoting a web link. For that, this "listening" video is a great primer on the subject.
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The heart of caring for others is listening to them. I was just tonight lamenting to a friend that in the church (and in society) we have tended to back off educating and encouraging people to listen.
As you know - see below - some of us have this week been involved in a Week of Guided Prayer. I was one of the prayer guides and our work has been to actively listen to the people we have walked with, before it has been anything else.
As my friend in our conversation noted, when people have someone who will listen to them a number of the issues people have are resolved. Getting it out of the head space into the conversation space and tossing it around makes such a difference.
It's even there in Scripture as today's verse indicates... 'be quick to listen....' is the counsel of James.
The wonderful thing is that listening does not require highly developed skills. As the verse notes being, 'slow to speak' will do it! Some basic training that helps people to lay aside their agenda for the sake of others; how to actively listen and give affirming feedback; resisting giving advice; being encouraged to check later that any intentions or resolves were helpful; and a few practice role plays; can easily be the basis of a two or three session training that will help create better listeners.
Why do we resist listening when it is such a helpful discipline?
For what am I most grateful?
For what am I least grateful?
'Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life' by Dennis Linn
is one of the resources accessible via our Contemplative Prayer page on this website.
You'll also find on this page five (PDF) prayer leaflets authored by Sue Pickering when she was a trainer with Spiritual Growth Ministries. One of these leaflets is about the 'Examen' which refers to 'Sleeping with Bread'.
A preface to this book on Amazon notes, "If you were to join us in either of our homes at the end of almost any evening, or if you were to attend one of our retreats, we would invite you to do with us the process described in these pages. This book is about asking ourselves two questions: For what am I most grateful? For what am I least grateful? These questions help us identify moments of consolation and desolation. We call this process the examen."
Examen is one of the contemplative prayer forms some us have been working with during our Week of Guided Prayer Retreat at Island Bay.
St Hilda's Anglican Church, Island Bay
St Hilda's Anglican Church in Island Bay is this week hosting a week of guided prayer. The Week began yesterday (Sunday) with an opening gathering in the Church with 15 participants joining the three prayer guides from Spiritual Growth Ministries. Each participant will have a daily session of 30 minutes with one of the 'guides' before all re-gathering on Friday evening for a closing group session.
The participants are representative of the Island Bay church congregations and have undertaken in addition to the formal group and individual sessions, to spend at least 30 minutes daily in the practice of prayer.
The leadership team of Jo Anastasiadis, Adrienne Thompson and Terry Alve are all trained and registered spiritual directors who are part of a group of directors who offer these Weeks of Guided prayer around Wellington and up to the Kapiti Coast. At the same time as the Week is happening at Island Bay, another 'Week' is happening on the Victoria University Campus.
More information about these Weeks and an online registration form is available HERE.
John Murawski - Religion News Service Review of this Book
Christian apologist and theologian Bishop N.T. Wright, "How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels," insists that Christianity has got heaven - a blissful realm of harp-strumming angels - all wrong, "An awful lot of ordinary church-going Christians are simply millions of miles away from understanding any of this."
"Our picture (of heaven), which we get from Dante and Michelangelo, particularly of a heaven and a hell, and perhaps of a purgatory as well, simply isn't consistent with what we find in the New Testament," Wright said. "A lot of these images of hellfire and damnation are actually pagan images which the Middle Ages picks up again and kind of wallows in."
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Dr Alexander Shaia
I have had the opportunity twice now to be part of retreats where Dr Alexander Shaia has been the retreat director. The first was during July 2011 in Auckland where he was addressing the biennial meetings of the Association of Spiritual Directors (ANZ) and the second was last week at Pa Maria, Wellington CBD where he offered a two day retreat for local spiritual directors.
On both occasions Alexander, a liturgist, psychotherapist, theologian, spiritual director and genuine nice guy, has impressed me as a man of deep Christian faith and with great communication skills. Another of his qualifications, something that deeply informs his ministry, relates to the fact that he is first generation Lebanese with Maronite Christian roots. His intuitive feeling for and understanding of Semitic cultures is a great asset. He is essentially a commentator on the Gospels and he has coined the term Quadratos for the four questions being asked (and answered one by one) in the Gospel texts. Thus:
You may enjoy viewing Dr Shaia's presentation style and some of his wisdom in a video offered by Spiritiual Directors International which is on the Inspirational Resources page of this website.
While he will return to the US shortly, Dr Shaia talks of returning to NZ and Australia for further ministry and time among the people down under.
The national Anglican newspaper 'Taonga' has a helpful article on who the new Wellington bishop is - Justin Duckworth - and some of the things he stands for. I'll leave you to read it.
I single out these two quotations from the Bishop elect's 'sayings' as striking a chord with me. “So it’s about using the skills and passion I possess, and the experiences I’ve had in the last 25 years… and bringing those to bear to help the Anglican Church to realign a little bit... to realign to be a force for transformation in society.”
I like that. Not throwing the baby out with the bath water. Recognising that there's a bit of treasure (taonga) there in the old girl. Affirming the treasure, while facing change in those areas where the church is on the wrong path; heading in the wrong direction and focusing on the less important things than on the majors like justice and compassion and practical loving action.
Justin's obvious compassion and commitment to the weak, marginalised and those on the 'edge' of society excites me. I wasn't at the electoral synod, but I want to offer a great thank you to everyone there who had the vision, faith, fortitude, courage and other commendable things to choose this man to lead the church forward in the southern North Island. I am excited too to read that it seems this man is a man of prayer who will act by seeking to discern God's will each step of the way.
Kia Kaha Justin... Stand tall and be strong.
A Prayer for this time...
"I pray for this man of peace and courage
May Justin and Jenny, their family and close community,
Be a strength for one another always on this journey.
Increase wisdom and discernment in this waiting Bishop.
Grant him and the people he will lead as Christ's shepherd
Unity, faith, renewal of hope, respectful relations and
Mobilise them as one in Christ's name to serve faithfully,
So that healing, hope and honour may abound in our land."
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