THE ART OF LISTENTING

Part 1

Did you know that some colleges teach a class on listening? You might be thinking, ďwell, that is kind of silly, who does not know how to listen.Ē I can promise you that many would benefit from such a class because the art of listening has become a dead art for many. The art of listening is a learned skill, it does not just happen. Please understand that hearing and listening are two different things. Unless we something wrong with our hearing, we can all hear, but listening requires processing what we hear. It is certainly possible to hear without listening. In fact, we have all done this. Someone is talking and our minds start thinking about something else. We hear the person talking, but we have no idea what he is talking about because we stopped listening.

 

We do the same thing sometimes when we are reading. We can start reading a book and start thinking about something else and even though our eyes are scanning the words and we read over a page worth of information, we have no idea what we just read. This tells us that we can hear and even see with our eyes, yet not comprehend because we phased out and were not taking in what we see or hear and processing it because we were not paying attention.

 

I think this is a topic that is important to us all, so I will be talking about the art of listening and its importance this morning and this evening. Not only will be pointing out the importance of listening to the Word of God, but also how the art of listening will benefit us in every aspect of our lives.

 

When Jesus was on this earth, He taught many times about how important it is to listen. He concluded several of His teachings by saying:

 

Matthew 11:15 "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

 

When Jesus was speaking to the 7 churches of Asia, He addressed each of them with a statement similar to this one found in: †††††††††††

 

Revelation 2:7 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

 

Jesus also said the following:

 

Mark 4:23 "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."24 Then He said to them, "Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.25 "For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him."

 

What the verses teach us is that when it comes to Godís Word, we better pay attention and listening intently to what it says. We cannot just read the words in our Bibles and not process them in our minds. Not only does Jesus want to be good listeners, He also wants to to take heed to what we listen to because knows what we take into our minds can corrupt us if we are listening to the wrong kind of things. As Paul said:

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."

 

So, there is a balance. Our goal is to be good listeners especially when it comes to Godís Word, but we must also be careful at what we listen to so that it does not influence in a negative way that will cause to move away from God.

 

You would be surprised at how much listening is required in our lives every single day. Yet, the art of listening is hardly ever taught in our schools. To help put things in perspective, I want you to consider the following numbers in regards to everyday communication:

 

        Most of us receive at least 12 years of instruction on how to write well, yet this skill only makes up about 9% of a personís daily communication. 

        We receive about 8 years of formal instruction on how to read, yet it only accounts for 16% of our daily communication. 

        When it comes to speaking, most receive 1 or 2 years of training. Speaking makes up about 30% of our communication. 

        If we are lucky we might receive a half-year of formal training in listening, yet it makes up 45% of our daily communication.

 

All of these skills play a part in our daily communication, but based on these numbers, we can see that listening makes up the biggest percentage. Since so little time is spent on learning how to listen it should not surprise us why so many are poor communicators and why so many get confused about what people are saying because they do not listen. The good news is, with a little bit of effort, we can all become better listeners.

 

First, letís consider some different levels of listening that will help us understand where we are when comes to listening in general.

 

The first level is simply hearing the words.

 

Everyone hearing person has the ability to do this, but we are fooling ourselves if we think that simply hearing the words someone says is the same as listening to what someone says. If this is the level you are at, you will be the type of person that misunderstands many things that people say. You will tend to jump to conclusions and miss important parts of what is being said. Though you may be aware that you are not listening that close, you will tend to blame the speaker for not understanding everything that was said not matter how good he explained the topic.

 

We might get away with this kind of listening sometimes, but it will catch up to you especially when it comes to your loved ones. While a preacher or a teacher might not ever know your listening level, a loved one will because they interact with you daily. They will figure out that you are not making any effort to listen and it will make them feel that you do not care and are not interested in what they say. This listening level can be devastating to marriages and other relationship you may have.

 

The second level is listening in spurts.

Even when we know we should be listening, we have a tendency to turn in spurts, but we fail to listen closely, so we only get part of the story. Though we are getting more information than level 1, we will still have some of the same problems as I discussed in that level.

 

One thing that can contribute to listening level is known as conversational narcissism. Conversational narcissists always try and turn every conversation into being about them because they want the attention. We all know people like this and how annoying it can be. When they listen to someone speaking, they are not listening per se to understand what you are saying because they are listening to what they can say that will be similar to what you are saying, but will then talk about themselves. Sometimes it is hard for us to recognize the fact that we all do this sometimes, but is shows that one is self-centered and mainly cares that the focus of any conversation is about them. If this describes you, realize that you can change your ways and I will be talking later about how you can do this, but you will have to come back tonight to hear how.

 

The third level is empathetic listening.

This level should be our goal in all aspects of our lives. When you can achieve this level of listening, you are able to set aside internal and external distractions so as to listen without judgment or interruption.  We are emotionally and mentally invested in the speaker and the speaker will be able to tell that you are paying close attention and are interested in what he is saying. When you will listen carefully it is going to difficult for you to misunderstand what the speaker is saying and it give you the ability to know what to say or ask that will enhance the conversation.

 

When it comes to someone who is speaking publicly like I am this morning, there are certain basic rules of communication that I must follow to present my lesson in a way that is easily understood, but at the same time it is your responsibility to listen carefully so that you can get the most out of what I am saying. So there is just as much responsibility for the hearer to listen as for the speaker to speak in a coherent manner.

 

These 3 listening levels apply to us all and we fall into one of these levels. Hopefully, we fall into level more often than not. Along these same lines,I also want to point out 3 different kinds of listeners found within the Bible when it comes to listening to Godís Word.

 

First we have the dull of hearing. The writer of Hebrews described such people:

 

Hebrews 5:8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,10 called by God as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek,"11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

 

When a person will not actively listen to the truth found in Godís Word, he is going to find himself woefully ignorant and unprepared for the judgment day. When a person refuses to hear and learn, then they will get to the point where they need to be taught the basics all over again, but even that will be impossible because you cannot teach a person anything if he is dull of hearing. Jesus dealt with people like this during His day:

 

Matthew 13:13 "Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.14 "And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive;15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.'

 

There was nothing wrong with the message being taught. If they listened and asked questions they could understand, but they were blinded by the dull ears and their blind eyes. Many today have the same dull hearing and blindness when it comes to hearing and seeing what Godís Word says because theydo not want to see or hear what it says if it means they have to change their ways. For those who are do not close their ears or their eyes to the truth will be blessed as Jesus said:

 

Matthew 13:16"But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;17 "for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

 

Second we have those with itching ears.

 

Paul describes this kind of listener in:

 

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

 

If you will remember earlier in the lesson, Jesus warned us about what we listen to. Well, this is the reason He warned us. There were people in the first century who chose to go beyond dull hearing because they added to it by being active listeners to the false way. It is easy to listen to those things that we want to hear or make us feel good, but not so easy when it comes to what we need to hear. This was not a problem isolated to the first century because the people during the days of Isaiah had the same problem.

 

Isaiah 30:8 Now go, write it before them on a tablet, And note it on a scroll, That it may be for time to come, Forever and ever:9 That this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will not hear the law of the LORD;10 Who say to the seers, "Do not see," And to the prophets, "Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.11 Get out of the way, Turn aside from the path, Cause the Holy One of Israel To cease from before us."

 

In fact, you can see this mentality throughout the Bible and this same mentality plagues us today because there are many who willing to close their ears to the truth, yet embrace the message of false teachers because it tickles their ears. This is a dangerous kind of listener to be because you feel good about your condition and even fool yourself into thinking you are saved when you are not.

 

Third we have those who listen with a noble and good heart. This kind of person is described by Jesus as being the fourth kind of soil as he explains the meaning of His parable of the soils:

 

Luke 8:11 " Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.12 "Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.13 "But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.14 "Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.15 "But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

 

This is the kind of listener that all Christians should be when it comes to allowing Godís Word to penetrate our hearts. It is the only way we can be truly be transformed into a child of God and have the qualities that God wants us to have. A great example of this kind of listener comes from:

 

Acts 17:10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.

 

Our goal as Christians is to be one who listens carefully with a noble and good heart. We should hang on every Word found in our Bibles and carefully weigh what it says to whatever is being spoken so we can confirm what is being said is the truth or a lie. Only those who are like the fourth soil be able to bear fruit that is pleasing to God, so I urge you if you are not a good listener to Godís Word, I hope you will start listening carefully to it because it contains the words of life. If you do not listen and obey what the Word of God says then you will be lost as Jesus points out in:

 

Matthew 7:21 " Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

 

When it comes to Godís Word you have a choice of what kind of listener you will be. If you a dull of hearing or have itching ears to hear something other than the truth than you be lost. If you you are a good hearer and a doer of what you hear from Godís Word then you will be saved. Jesus illustrates this the principle in:

 

Matthew 7:24 " Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:25 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.26 "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:27 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."

 

I want to close this lesson by looking at some of the benefits of becoming a good listener. When we listen to others it shows respect. As the golden rule says, One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. If you make the effort to listen to someone closely without interrupting or looking bored, then most likely the other person will do the same. We certainly do not like it when people do not listen to what we have to say especially if it really important to us, so keep that in mind when talking with others.

 

When people come to you and want to unload their problems on you it does not mean that they want your advice. Sometimes they just want someone one to listen to them. Of course, if they ask you for advice give it to them, but sometimes the best thing you can do for that person is to just listen. Fighting the urge to give your opinion or your advice can strengthen your bond with that person.

 

If you practice listing everyday it is an effective way to continue to learn because you will pick up on more details and opportunities you may have missed before learning to listen carefully.

 

Learning to listen carefully will make a valuable employee. Employers want good listeners because it makes the employees open to new ideas, shows they care, and good listeners make the best customer service agents. Good listening has also been shown to reduce stress and allow for better management of difficult people.  What more could a thriving business want from an employee?  This is especially true when a promotion is in consideration. When the 15 richest Americans were asked what advice they would give to an average American aspiring to wealth, one of the responses was to become a good listener.

 

When it comes to listening to Godís Word the benefits are endless and eternal. Much could be said about this but I will let Paul sum it up with his message to Timothy:

 

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

I hope you will join us back tonight as we begin to examine how to become good listeners.

 

 

 

 

 

THE ART OF LISTENTING

Part 2

This morning we began talking about the importance of listening. We talked about the difference between hearing and listening. We looked at three levels of listening and three kinds of listeners from the Bible. We looked at some of the benefits of learning the art of listening. Tonight, I will be focusing on how to become a better listener. If you will put into practice some of the things I will be pointing out tonight, you will become a better listener.

 

I want to start out with a few verses that talk about listening:

 

James 1:19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;

 

Proverbs 18:13 He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.

 

Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.

 

Many more versus could be used that teach the same idea, but these are enough to show that listening carefully and speaking less just to hear your head rattle will always serve you well by keeping anger and other sins at bay.

 

The art of listening take effort and there are many things that can get in our way, but there are things we can do overcome the obstacles before us and establish new listening habits. Sharpening our listening skills is pretty easy to do once what good listening is and is not. We must never forget that listening is not a passive process, so all of the techniques I am about to share with you are active including the ones that are not visible to the speaker.

 

1. Listen with an open mind

Be ready to hear and consider all sides of an issue.  This does not mean we have to agree with what is being said, but we must avoid going into what I call defense mode, which means you stop listening to the rest of the story and you begin thinking about how you are going to respond to that one point you disagree with. When we donít make ourselves listen to the whole story, we tend to jump to conclusions and we miss out on something important. I have heard some preachers start out preaching something false and they do it to get the attention of their hearers, then they finally let the people in on what they are doing by saying something like, ďthis is what Satan would want me to teach, but now let us look at what the Bible teaches on this.Ē

 

How many times have you started reading a book and the first chapter was boring so you decided not to read the rest? Then later, you find a friend who read the same book and talked about how great it was once you got past the first chapter? So, the point of the matter is listen to the whole story so that you have the complete picture. You may find yourself learning something from a new perspective or if you disagree, you will have more information to go on in order to show what the person is saying is not right. In other words be the like the Bereans in Acts 17.

 

 

2. Listen to the entire message without judging or refuting

Building upon point 1, we must learn to suppress the urge to let biases and prejudices prevent us from listening fully.  We can only do one thing effectively at a time: listen, judge, or respond This is great order to follow. You have to begin with listening to the entire message, then you can weigh your thoughts against what has been said, and finally respond. When you are the listener, you cannot simultaneously be the judge because our minds do not work well that way. However, when we make the effort to suppress our desire to make premature judgments, we become better listeners.

 

A great way to prepare for this in advance is to be aware of what your biases are and then try to reason out why you feel this way.  What ďbuzz wordsĒ or topics generate a strong emotional reaction either positive or negative in you?  If you judge and then speak too soon, youíve opened the possibility of having missed a critical part of the message and thus embarrassing yourself by jumping to conclusions.

 

An extreme example of what not to do would be how the Jews already had their minds made up about Stephen in Acts 7. He tried to teach them the truth, but they would not listen and they killed him.

 

3. Determine the concepts and central ideas of the message.

The best gauge to know whether you are listening or just hearing is whether or not you are actively looking for the central idea(s) of what is being said. If the message is well-constructed then our role as a listener will be easier, but we will not always have that luxury.  A great technique, regardless of the speakerís ability to construct a message, is to listen in such a way that you can summarize what you believe are the central idea(s).  If the situation allows it, share your summary with the speaker and confirm your understanding. Doing this builds your confidence as a listener, plus it proves to the speaker that you were listening. This technique can be very helpful when resolving problems between the parent and child and husband and wife. Sometimes we may think we understand what our family member is saying, but we may be wrong. Instead of assuming, which will almost always get you into trouble, restate to your family member what you think they are saying and then you will know for sure if you understood correctly.

 

4. Learn to adapt to the speakerís appearance, personality, and delivery.

 

The Lord says it best in:

 

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

 

In context, Samuel was looking for the biggest and strongest man as being the next king because we have a tendency to look at the outer appearance of a person. Imagine being approached by a man like John the Baptist:

 

Matthew 3:4 And John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

 

You might think, ďWho is this crazy looking guy?Ē Despite his looks, he was the forerunner for Christ, and his message was important. Sometimes race or certain accents can cause us to view people differently, but a Christians, we must learn to overcome stereotypes and not allow them to interfere with our listening skills. Abraham Lincoln was not a handsome man, but as our sixteenth president of the United States, his words changed the course of history.

 

Beyond appearance, we must understand that not everyone is like us and they have different personalities, styles, and levels of education. While it can be challenging to follow a different style of speech, you need to focus on what they are trying to tell you and not allow their style or their personality to distract from the meat of the message whether it be a general conversation or listening to someone teach or preach. I am thankful that we are not all cut from the same cookie mold because that makes life more interesting.

 

5. We must learn to overcome distractions.

For some, it does not take very much to break someoneís concentration, but we all started out as good listeners. Think about how much a baby learns within the first few years of his or her life.  Yet babies donít attend classes, read textbooks, or go to seminars.  They simply listen, and they do it so well that eventually they start behaving like little adults.  Over time, however, a series of bad habits begins to pop up. 

 

A man by the name of Dr. Paine shared the following statistics in his class:

 

When a teacher suddenly stopped in the middle of a lesson and asked students to explain the content of the lesson thus far, 90% of first grade students could do so successfully.  That number drops to 80% in second graders, then plummets to 44% in middle school students, and a gut-wrenching 28% in high school.  In other words, despite how well we start, our bad habits develop rather quickly.

 

If we ever hope to become great listeners we must recognize those things that easily distract us and work hard to actively ignore them. This takes practice, but it can be done. Here is a general list of some of things that might distract us:

 

        External noises (beeping, humming, baby noises, etc.)

        Psychological activity (worry, self-consciousness, preoccupation, etc.)

        Physical conditions (temperature, odors, lighting, visual distractions, etc.)

        Physiological conditions (pain, hunger, fatigue, etc.)

        Semantic distractions (dialects, accents, unfamiliar vocabulary, etc.)

        Technological distractions (the urge to check your phone, surf the net, etc.)

 

Only you can make a list of those things you find distracting. Whatever they are, you need to be aware of them, and work on overcoming them every day because it will not be a battle you win overnight. If you are in a situation where the distraction become too great, you might need to tell the person you talking to that you cannot focus and need to move to a new location or have the conversion somewhere else. I realize you cannot do this in a Bible class or while listening to a sermon, but you can move to another seat if a person is distracting you. I also want you to understand that you are not alone because everyone struggles with distractions and sometimes the distractions win. Peter struggled with staying focused on Jesus when he tried to walk on the water:

 

Matthew 14:28 And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."29 So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

 

Of course, this teaches more than just overcoming distractions when it comes to listening, but the principle is the same. If you take your attention off what you are supposed to be doing, which in our case is listening, then we can start to sink a lose our concentration. So, we must continue to practice being focused on the person speaking this will help us a long way.

 

6. Attempt to find something that interests you in what the person is saying or something that you might be able to share with someone else.

If we have a negative attitude about someone we are talking to or we do not like the topic a person is teaching or preaching on, then it is going to be hard for us to get anything out of what the person says, but when we approach each speaker with the attitude that I am going to look for something that I can learn, then we will be able to listen with a positive attitude instead of a negative one. When we can focus on the positive instead of the negative it will naturally make us better listeners.

 

7. Listening does not mean that you agree.

Sometimes we think if we continue to listen to someone with whom we disagree that we are given the impression that we agree with them, but this simply is not true. When we allow someone to say what they are thinking, we are simply showing them respect. Dr Paine makes the following two statements:

 

ďListening demands neither surrender nor agreement; instead, listening demands an open mindĒ and ďListening actually provides a powerful way to bring about change because listening is thinking, because listening is action.Ē

 

Jesus did this several times. For example:

 

John 8:3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,4 they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.5 "Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?"6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first."8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?"11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."

 

Jesus knew what the men were up to because He could read the heartsí of men. Notice, He listened to their plea without interrupting or agreeing. He even was silent for awhile and drew in the sand. Then He answered them and they all walked away because they realized once again that they were not going to be able to catch Jesus at making a mistake.

 

Like Jesus, we can listen to what people say, whether we agree with it or not, but when we do, it will give us more information and allow us to be able respond and more appropriate manner. The main point is that listening well does not mean that you agree.

 

8. Stop trying to jump in and talk

One of the challenges of having conversations especially within a small group is knowing when it is a good time to add your input. This can be really hard when one person is conversation hog and appears to never breath. However, if we want to improve our listening skills, we must pay close attention to what is being said, so we can know when the best time to speak is. What we want to be careful about is being the kind of person who thinks he has to make a comment on everything being said because we do not. If we focus our attention on simply waiting for slightest pause to speak then we are probably not paying attention to what is being said. When we interrupt people in the middle of their sentence or thought, then we are being rude and disrespectful whether that was our intention or not.

 

Of course, there are times when interrupting someone can be necessary, but overall, interrupting should not be done and should listen to what is being said and then give your opinion when it is your turn to talk.

 

9. Pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal messages

Paying attention to body language is just as important as paying attention to the words.  If you need proof of the importance of body language, just think about how much more difficult it is to detect something like sarcasm during a phone conversation or in a text message without the benefit of seeing the personís face and body. Without the ability to see another personís facial expression, hand gestures, and other movements, we lose an important part of being able to understand the intent of what the person is saying. This tells us that our eyes become an important part of being a good listener as well.

 

10. Ask questions to clarify the message

This is a positive way to show someone that you are listening. No matter how hard someone tries to make their message completely clear, whether in general conversation or teaching or preaching, sometimes the message does not come across clearly to every person. If we want to improve our listening skills and get the most of out what is being said, then by all means ask questions. Asking questions will help you have a greater understanding of what the speaker is saying.

 

Much of what I have said so far will help you out a great deal in striving to be a better listener. It will help you in all aspects of your life. I would like to close by giving you some good ways to specifically listen better at sermons and Bible class material.

 

        I know it is not always possible, but try and be rested up before you go to worship or Bible class because if you are tired it is going to be difficult for you pay attention and to stay awake.

        Try to prepare yourself before you set foot in the door to be a good listener and have your mind on God. Some listen to gospel music, others read their Bibles, and some pray. Whatever helps you get your mind in the right place do it.

        Remind yourself of how important it is to hear Godís Word proclaimed. There is always something new for us to learn or be reminded of.

        When it comes to Bible class, come prepared to participate. If you have some good insight on the topic being spoken about share it so that all can benefit from it.

        Donít be afraid to ask questions in Bible class.

        When it comes to listening to the sermon being presented have a positive attitude that you are going to hear something that will help you or someone else. Donít focus on the mispronounced words or the small goof ups such as saying Matthew when Mark was the right name. Instead, focus on the overall message and what you can learn from it.

        Follow along with the Scriptures by reading them on the screen or if they are not on the screen open your Bibles to the verses being used because this will help you stay focused.

        If taking notes helps you stay focused by all means, take notes.

 

I donít think you will ever hear anyone complain about you being too good of a listener. I hope these two lessons today will encourage you to be better listeners and that you will use some of the techniques I pointed that will make you a better listener. As I said, being a better listener will benefit you in all areas of your life including your spiritual life. I want to close with the words of Isaiah:

 

Isaiah 55:2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you -- The sure mercies of David.

 

So, listen well especially when it comes to the Word of the Lord.

 

This lesson was adapted from two articles on listening http://artofmanliness.com/2012/05/02/how-to-listen-effectively/ http://artofmanliness.com/2012/05/08/listen-up-part-ii-15-techniques-to-improve-our-listening/ Written by Tony Valdes