I often write about the importance of listening well to others. (And you’re probably tired of listening to it.)
Listening well takes effort and humility. It’s essential for healthy relationships of any kind. We need to listen healthily and truthfully. We need to not listen to the wrong things.
We’re usually pretty good at shutting off things (and people) who offend us or don’t meet our interests. That’s not what I’m talking about. I hope we all listen—to some extent—to people we don’t agree with and people who even annoy us. We make that sacrifice because the relationship is important or our listening extends basic respect. Instead of walking away and rationalizing it, we listen while filtering. We still set healthy boundaries, and we always infuse our listening with truth.
We tend to focus more on speaking in truth than listening in truth, but both are important. We need to filter what comes in and what goes out, and it’s not our own filters. We’ll get it wrong at times. Even with good intentions, we’ve all gone down a rabbit trail of listening to something or someone respectable, but over time, we lean into what we want to hear and end up with a skewed message. It’s like the telephone game reversed. Instead of the message changing over time because of how it gets passed from one person to the next, we internalized the process. We let one thing we hear position the next thing we hear and so on until we wonder how we got where our thoughts are (or being clueless and assuming we’re still as on target as we were in the beginning of the process).
Listening well and speaking well have one thing in common: We set aside our own filters and base it all on God’s. He’s the only one who thoroughly defines what healthy, truthful communication is. Let’s not shut it down when he can filter well. Let’s not open the floodgates, or even a trickle, when he says it’s out of bounds. Let’s not project our boundaries and timing onto others, because his journey for each of us is personalized. He puts us into relationships and communities to honor him, including accountability. Let’s be willing to receive it so we can live it out well. It’s all about him. We are accountable to him, including how well we listen.