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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?
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