I'm coming to the realization that I can maybe only offer two things to another person in a relational connection: 1. An ear & 2. a prayer partner.
Having been immersed in a new ministry context for the last few months, I've learned more about these two things than ever before. I'm starting to think that this is also the best thing I can offer students as a youth pastor as well.
Last night the family and I were hanging out in the mall. I was so thankful for the chance to catch up with Bonny and shoot the breeze a little bit together. She shared a concern with me, and I immediately put on my "pastor" hat and began trying to find a solution for her. I'm so quick to try and solve problems that I forget to listen and I forget to take the issue to the one that can actually do something about it. Bonny finally injected herself into my rant and said, "Hey, I'm not asking you to solve this issue, I just want you to listen."
Huh, who would have thought that my wife just wants to be heard!! :)
I wonder if other people feel like this sometimes as well. I know I do. It's part of the reason I started this blog. I want to be heard. I want people to hear me. As an introvert, this is a non-instrusive way for me to say what is on my heart and mind while sharing it with others.
Think about this for a moment. When we stop to listen to others we do two things: 1. We value them and 2. we invest our "talent" (in this case our time) into God's Kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is the community of believers mobilized to walk in the footsteps of Christ. Taking time for others, even if it seems like a burden, is a way of investing in the kingdom.
Listening doesn't mean agreeing with another person, but in order to be heard, we sometimes need to earn that right by listening first.
Try it for a week, I dare you!! In each of your relationships, ask questions that require you to listen. Engage the conversation with your non-verbal communication using eye contact and other postures that suggest interest rather than disgust or busyness. I bet you will learn more about those you love than by doing anything else for them that week. I know I have!