What if we all just listened? Not merely a pause in a conversation, but initializing a conversation with the intention of listening only? What if we were all willing to step out of our comfort zones to talk to someone in need of interaction? What if we all lived life with the intention of improving the lives of those around us?
My conjuring of these questions is not rhetorical, but rather, sufficient to fulfill a serious consideration. In my experience, the most misunderstood concept in life is that of social interaction. People tend to interact only with those who directly relate to themselves. The avoidance of the “strange” and “peculiar” is limiting to all who practice the technique of evasion. The majority of the population socialize with those who will boost their social status or individual ego. However, the reality of life is that the most beneficial confabulations are those in which people are coupled with the most incompatible to their personalities.
If a person wants to be successful for Christ, he or she must listen to people. Learning to master the technique of listening is one of the most selfless acts a person can fulfill. Time is the most valuable entity which can be contributed. A listening, responsive, and sympathetic ear can make all the difference in the world. We all lead such busy lives that when a person brings a topic to our attention in which we are not interested, we immediately shut them down or cease to listen. However, those topics which matter to others should matter to followers of Christ.
A technique too often practiced by those in the Church is the avoidance of “sinners.” This attitude is inconceivable to in consideration of the practices of Christ. Who were Christ’s friends? They were the poor, the outcasts, the sinners. His friends were the ones to whom no one would listen, to whom no one would give their time. In our society the outcasts are the introverts, the nerds, the academic lovers, the poor, the druggies, the alcoholics, the nerdily obsessed, and many more. These are all people to whom few give their time. However, as followers of Christ, we should give our time.
I do not know how many hours I have spent discussing a topic I knew nothing about. I cannot express the amount of tears I have cried with another person over a tragedy that did not directly affect me. I do not know the number of “sinners” to whom I have given my time, all while restraining from passing judgment. However, I know that Christ has used me to improve lives, all because I have mastered the art of listening.
As for myself, I have been regarded as an outcast on several occasions. The presence of a listening ear has conjured my heart to thankfulness and hope in the presence of my darkest times. Through associating myself with sinners and the socially poor, I have often been judged, but I take heart in the fact that Christ is using me. It is not in my strength which I have learned the art of listening, it is in Christ’s. Altogether, it is the most beneficial art I have come to attain.
As the new year approaches, maybe you should consider making a resolution to master the art of listening.