Listening Ear

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

It was great to have breakfast with one of our CBMC leaders last week, so we could get an update on his care for his wife, who is dealing with cancer.  Three of us were able to listen to him share their experiences of the past few weeks, dealing with hospital caregivers, hospice nurses, and doctors.  We were blessed by his attitude as he shared their appreciation for all of those who have come around them.  They have grown in their relationship with each other, as well as with God. 

It is important to listen to those who are experiencing difficult times!

I learned three principles when we were grieving the losses of our three children:

  1. Show up – many visited us at the funeral home, and they didn’t know what to say, but they came!
  2. Shut up – we heard of lot of “We love you!”, which was fine, but the only people who really know what to say are the ones who have experienced something similar.  Only empathy speaks – sympathy needs to be silent!
  3. Listen up – the grieving person needs to be able to share his thoughts to an audience who cares.


Job’s friends handled the first one very well.  For a week, they handled the second one!  But, when Job started to share his concerns, they weren’t really listening.  They wanted to talk and they were sure they had all the answers!  The problem was that they were speculating, instead of listening!

Thirteen times, in the NIV Bible, Job and his friends tell each other to listen to their arguments.  When God speaks, they listen without Him having to say it!

John 15:13 says, Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

I know times seem tough, but let’s face it:  most of us will not die of persecution or will we be in a position to give up our life for a friend.  But, think of it in this light:  when you take the time to listen to a friend, you are giving up a piece of your life that is valuable to you.  Communication is important to any relationship, and listening is probably the most important aspect of communication.

Try listening, next time, instead of sharing your own story.  See how it works out for your relationships!