The Soul-Reaching Power of Listening

by Jennifer Slattery

So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:3-4 NIV

My daughter could’ve become a statistic, part of the growing “unchurched” population, many of whom left not due to unbelief, but rather, hurt; wounds caused by those who claim to follow Jesus but behave nothing like Him.

The problem is, you and I rarely know what lies beneath the surface. As a result, we often attack symptoms, rather than taking the time to get to the root.

Like a tender flower nurtured or trampled, faith blossoms or dies in the heart. This, therefore, is our target. To reach it, we must listen well, a skill in which I’m sorely deficient. As a result, I’ve hurt others and have shut down eternally significant conversations. In my failure to truly hear (both the person and the Holy Spirit within me), I’ve created barriers, not only between myself and another person, but I fear between them and God as well.

I almost did that with my daughter during her teen years. I knew once she left the home, (a day that was rapidly approaching), she could walk away from the faith for good. In fear, I began to push. Thankfully, my husband remained sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting. After watching our interactions and the tension growing between my daughter and I, he urged me to stop. To pull back before I pushed her away.

So I did. I dropped conversations regarding God and surrendered our daughter to Christ.

Surrender reminds us that God does indeed know best how to reach the hearts He created. Trusting this to be true with my daughter, I turned every anxious thought to prayer. I prayed He’d soften her heart, speak to her in ways only He could, guide me daily in how to respond, and give me the strength and courage to obey. To truly live as an instrument of His perfect, brilliant, life-changing love and grace.

And in the meantime, I waited and loved, with an ever-attentive ear to Christ and everything my daughter was and wasn’t saying. While this felt frightening at the time, God taught me that beauty and healing unfold when we are “quick to listen [and] slow to speak” (James 1:19 NIV).

For my daughter, it took about a year and a half of listening, waiting, and praying before the truth came out. Contrary to what I’d thought, she wasn’t pulling away out of disbelief. It wasn’t all her secular influence that had captured and deceived her heart. It was God’s children, those who had spoken judgement and condemnation, that had.

As a result, pain had become tangled with faith, causing every church service, worship song, and family Bible reading to trigger those wounds buried deep within.

And I almost missed it.

I’ve since discovered, my daughter’s experience is far from unique. So many of the people we interact with each day, maybe even try to share our faith with, appear angry on the outside, but inside, they’re wounded.

But we belong to a God who “searches and knows” us. Who actively plunges the depths of the human soul, uncovering those deeply hidden hurts no one else sees, or perhaps, has even taken the time to uncover. And Scripture says we’re His ambassadors, His representatives and image-bearers. That we are to act as instruments of healing, because Scripture tells us it’s His kindness, not our rebuttals, that lead to repentance.

God truly does have the power to change lives and save souls. That’s not to say we should never speak truth, but rather, that we do so always and only as God leads.

May you and I stop throwing up road blocks and begin paving loving, safe pathways instead.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: How do you show someone you are listening?

A Time Like This

by Christina Rose

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?  Esther 4:14 NIV

When young Esther became queen, she may have felt like she won the lotto with life in a beautiful palace and all the fancy clothes and food she could ever want. But she was soon faced with a life-saving decision. She needed to go before the king and plead for the lives of her people. If she chose to approach him without a summons, he could kill her. Her courage to speak up spared her life and that of many thousands across the land.  

The Bible tells us “the tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21 NIV). Our tongue can save people, or it can tear them down. Most of us live with the regret of saying what we shouldn’t have, or not saying something we wished we had. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19 NIV).

Writing our thoughts down can often help formulate what we want to say. As the ink flows across the paper, subconscious thoughts come to the surface, revealing secrets we may have kept from ourselves. This happened to me recently as memories of a hurtful betrayal from many years ago flooded me with rage. As I sat there stewing, the still small voice said, “Speak up,” but I pouted, “No, I will never forgive them!” With God you can run, but you can’t hide. I thought I had buried this long ago, but He knew it was still festering. 

“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 1:10-11 NIV).

I suddenly realized that Satan had trapped me in my anger and refusal to forgive. He may have fooled me for a while, but now his game was over. I went on a brisk walk by the lake to consider how I would speak to my friend. The good Father counts His kids, and when anyone is missing, He relentlessly pursues them until they are safely back in the flock. As my thoughts unfolded, I saw that God’s promptings were not only about forgiving my friend, but He also wanted to use me in saving His lost child, my friend who did not know Him.

At a time like this, when the world has been put on pause by the pandemic, there is a lot of fear and loss. Those who don’t know God may be feeling everything is spinning out of control. Just as Esther spoke up to save her people, this is a perfect time to speak up to those who are lost, to help them find comfort and peace in the Father who is waiting with open loving arms to welcome them into the fold.

As for my friend? I spoke up, and we are friends once again.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” (Luke 15:4-6 NIV)

TWEETABLE
A Time Like This – insight and encouragement from Christian Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina rose

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What is God calling you to do at a time like this?

You’re Not Listening

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.                                                                                James 1:19 NLT

 

My daughter’s exaggerated sigh, followed with, “Never mind, you’re not listening,” left me knowing I had done it again. I actually thought I was hearing her. But I have a bad habit of listening only until I think I know what someone is saying, and then my ears shut off and my tongue takes over. Even while someone is still talking. I’ve done it to my daughter, my husband, and just about anyone with whom I’ve had a conversation.

I know it’s rude, and it makes whoever is talking to me feel like I don’t care about them. It communicates, “What you’re saying isn’t as important as what I have to say.” I really don’t feel that way, yet I am guilty of talking over people more often than I care to admit.

I’m working on it, but evidently not hard enough, because this morning, as I was reading my Bible, James 1:19 (NLT) hit me right between the eyes. “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” It was as if the words, “quick to listen, slow to speak”, were lit up like flashing neon lights.

James goes on to talk about the importance of “hearing” God’s Word and then “doing” what it says. But that process cannot begin until we keep our mouths shut and listen.

If I could follow that one verse, it would be such a good thing. Both listening to God and to people require a closed mouth—no matter how important or urgent what we have to say might feel. So often, my quick words get me into trouble. I jump to conclusions and stir up anger. And then later, when I’m trying to clean up the mess I have created, I realize it all could have been avoided had I just kept my mouth shut and heard the rest of what they were trying to tell me.

Please tell me I’m not the only one guilty of this.

Jumping in with our two cents, before hearing someone out, not only devalues what they have to say, but they likely will also feel personally devalued. God’s Word is filled with instruction on how to walk out our faith by treating other people as more important than ourselves, and this is where it begins.

In Solomon’s collection of Proverbs, he teaches the advantages of listening carefully before speaking. If you are like me, and struggle with listening first, they might provide help and encouragement for you.

  • “He who has knowledge spares his words,
    and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit” (Proverbs 17:27 NKJ).
  • “When words are many, sin is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19 BSB).
  • “Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them” (Proverbs 29:20 NIV)

There is wisdom in remembering to hear before responding. It is a matter of simple respect. You will avoid creating a conflict by misunderstanding. There’s no faster way to make someone feel valued and loved than to listen to them.

TWEETABLE
You’re Not Listening – encouragement from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Terri ClarkAbout the author: Terri Clark works with women to prepare and equip them to receive God and the blessings He wants to produce in their lives. She began to answer God’s call on her life in 1994 and has since impacted women all over the world with His news of salvation, edification, and healing.

Her book, Fanning the Flame: Reigniting Your Faith in God, identifies and addresses the issues which most affect a believer’s spiritual flame: the busyness of life, Christian service, pride, and worldly temptations. Join her in this pilgrimage and reignite your spiritual lamp with a fresh, empowering faith–a faith that will stand through a time of testing.

Join the conversation: How do you make someone feel heard?