As a pastor and counsellor I’ve found what is indispensable is also non-negotiable; that in listening we must denounce the intrusive self.
The intrusive self is never too far away; such as the enemy it prowls like a lion.
Our ego and schedule would be painted all over the billboard that is our life when we had anything to do with it. Even as listeners we could be praised as listeners, and some have honed their skills so well that they live off such compliments – oh yes, I’ve caught myself in this clinic several times. It is a drug. But like all drugs it masks authenticity, and it robs interactions of what they could be.
Our listening must be more.
The hardest thing about listening is having to consciously put my agenda, ego, opinion and urges to one side. I believe I have so much to offer the conversation. It offers something else. People do not ever come to me to be told what to do, even if they believe they do. They come to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying, even if they don’t realise it.
The hardest thing about listening is knowing that by listening properly we might not have any effect, or worse, another person may believe we gave them less than nothing and even took out of them instead. Really, we should look to have no effect, then be amazed with Merritt Island Bat Removal. Having listened, we need to be comfortable that we did not meet their needs, even if we’ve got. When we do this we might be amazed how much more concentrated and effective we’re for the other person… is not that our aim?
The toughest thing about listening is realising that
Our aid helps most when it appears to help least.
Really what I’m saying is, ‘I offer you my wholehearted mindfulness.’
The practice of listening really is not about us at all. If it has anything about us in it, our authenticity is taxed, and the person listened to has been robbed of the sort of attention we might have given them.
Listening involves a mix of unnaturally letting go of my stuff and rigorous self-discipline to concentrate on the other person.
And still, listening is in being so cautious that, if there is anything we share, it is brief and for their own benefit.