Research reveals that the average person spends 45% of their day listening. Listening is the communication skill we use the most. We listen to the conversations around us and we listen to the rattle of the words in our heads. We listen, but how much do we hear?
How do we overcome problems with careless listening?
Be careful how you listen.
You can hear without listening, but you cannot listen without hearing.
“Did you hear me?”
My thoughts scramble like a herd of cats in my head, each one going a different direction. Too late, I realize I’m half-listening to those around me. Listening but not truly hearing.
I’d like to say this is a tendency of a creative temperament, but really it is just a bad habit.
Without strong convictions and a deep desire to embrace truth, we all struggle to listen well.
Be careful how you listen. Jesus often taught about the importance of hearing God’s word. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.--Luke 8:8.
In the well-known parable of the sower, Jesus teaches about four ways of listening.
Consider what the Parable of the Sower teaches us about hearing God’s truth.
Are we hearing God’s Word in a way that makes a difference?
If you aren’t familiar with the Parable of the Sower, take a moment to read Luke 8:4-18.
But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. Luke 8:15
Good-soil listening comes from hearing with a receptive mind. Receive truth with a desire to hold it firm in your heart. Listen and believe. Remember and apply. These are the habits of a receptive heart that values God’s Word over all else. Embrace Truth and listen with patience as you wait for God’s Word to transform your thinking.
Overcome three problems of careless listening.
- Roadside Listening: hearing with a closed mind. A closed mind tramples truth with opinions and positions. When we listen with a closed mind, truth gets snatched away by disbelief or a lack of concern.
- Be willing to listen to wisdom.
- Don’t be over-confident you have all the answers.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Rocky-Soil Listening: hearing with shallow thinking that falls prey to temptation. God’s word will not change us without strong convictions and a deep desire to embrace truth. When the hard days come, lack of roots cause the impact of truth to wither.
- Practice critical thinking skills: compare, contrast, evaluate, meditate, memorize.
- Know what you believe and why it’s important.
- Apply Truth to your life; don’t just talk about it.
- Thorny-Soil Listening:hearing with a distracted mind. These are the ones that hear but keep going their way. They listen, but distractions choke out the impact. Inventory your time and thought. How much of your time is consumed with worry, riches, or pleasures? Which one is the biggest distraction to you?
- Focus your attention.
- Evaluate your priorities.
- Simplify your schedule.
Resist the temptation to think about this parable as an isolated lesson. Keep reading.
Let God’s truth light up your life.
“Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.” Luke 8:16-17
Truth is seed for the soil and light for the soul.
Act on what you know and live what you believe. This is the light that shines through our thoughts, words, and actions. The light of truth reveals the dark of false beliefs, wounds, and sins tucked out of sight.
Live honest and brave by letting Christ shine truth in your hidden places.
- Let the light into your hard places.
- Believe God’s truth over your feelings, experiences, or opinions.
- Obey God’s Word.
- Share the truth with others.
This is good soil listening and lampstand living.
There is faith for salvation and truth for living each day. The attitudes of our minds, the habits of our attention, and the desires of our hearts impact how we live. Overcome the problems of careless listening for God’s truth to change your life.
What listening skills do you need to work on?