"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Listen and Learn

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. ~ James 1:19

Shhhhh!  Listen.

What do you hear going on around you?

If you are like me perhaps you hear a car zooming through the neighborhood or a dog barking in the distance.  Notice a motor coming to life and the clock on the wall ticking off moments of time.

There is always stuff to hear. Even when we are not purposefully trying to listen to anything and, in fact, want peace and quiet.

But how often are we hearing things of great importance, but not really listening? How often is someone trying to explain, sharing her heart or wanting to get a point across, but our minds are two steps ahead planning what we will say in reply or wondering when this person will hush so we can go on with our lives.  You know...to do something more important. Like watching a favorite show or running an errand or reading an assignment for class.

Has Jesus' words about "he who has ears, let him hear" ever puzzled you? Was Jesus talking to a crowd of earless people or was he perhaps instructing those who really wanted to learn to have attentive ears? To not only hear that words were being said, but the importance of those words.  For those to listen, to take note of and be influenced by those godly principles.

In Arab Voices, author James Zogby has one theme that stuck out the most to me:  listen to people. More specifically for this book, the Arab world.  Too often we barge into situations perhaps believing we are the better educated, better informed, dare I say, better developed and civilized people so we have the authority and right to dictate things, to show those people a thing or two about life in the 21st century. Ah, such arrogance really.

I remember when I first met Samer over three years ago. He often marveled that I cared enough to ask questions and get to know more about his views, his people, culture and religion. He expected me to not care because, well, because he was an Arab, a Muslim and surely the American in this friendship would dominate the conversation, yes?  Never underestimate the power of listening to another person as he shares his heart and his experiences and his point of view. It's such a wonderful way to learn from others, expand your understanding about the world and to show that other people matter to you.

Ever notice how Jesus was approached by people and instead of acting like a know-it-all, he listened to them?  What do you want me to do for you? What is your problem? Jesus knew he had the answer. He was the miracle worker. He was the Blessed One from God.  He knew. If anyone had the right to speak first and dictate, he did. And he did his share of teaching and instructing. But he also listened. He wanted to hear the heart of people so he could help them.

Do you want to help others?

Perhaps we should go through life listening more.

Luke 6 records these words from Jesus:
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?"

Perhaps people don't do what Jesus said because they aren't listening. 

So what do you have on your heart?  I'm listening.  Please share.


sanil said...

Very interesting post and good points. :) I used to be a good listener but realized in the past few years I've started to tune people out when they talk a lot. I'm trying to fix that.

Thanks for the reminder!

Also, I like Samer's assumption that an American would dominate conversation. :D Oh dear, the impressions we give people. Hopefully that's getting better, though.

Susanne said...

Sanil, I think Samer was more amazed that I actually cared to hear him. The dominating the conversation thing perhaps was my take on it after reading a book recently where the foreigners talked about American leaders and policymakers and how they would talk to people rather than listen. Even experts on a subject where told what would happen rather than real dialogue and learning from each other took place. Maybe Samer expected this of me and maybe I am injecting my own thoughts based on this book. I do know for a fact that he had talked online with other Americans who barely considered his perspective, dismissed it as wrong based on that biased Arab media (as if ours is not biased?) and ..I don't know, I just get the impression sometimes that SOME of us believe we know better than outsiders. I wonder why we have this big impression of ourselves like we are the world's experts on every matter. In reality we are often quite ignorant of what is happening. I admit that about myself and thus why I've greatly enjoyed my friendship with Samer. He teaches me a lot about world happenings! I get my news updates from him quite often. :D

I dont' always listen like I should. Like you, long-winded talkers really drain me and I wish I could move on from them. :)

Thanks for your comment!

Becky said...

This is such an important point, and we are so quick to forget it.

I have to say that I'm blessed to have some wonderful American friends (I hope I'm not too forward to consider you one of them Susanne), who truly are good at seeing both sides and listening. But my God... I've spend extended periods of time in both Ireland and Australia as well as Denmark... nowhere have I found such a general attitude of arrogancy and supremacy. We had a king about 2-300 years ago in Denmark, who was famous for saying "Vi alene vide", translating to "We (the royal we) alone know". This seems to be many (not all) Americans attitude. If I believe this and think this way then it must be true, because we're God's chosen people and we get to decide how everyone else should live, think and feel. Sorry for going off on a bit of a rant, but I'm shocked when I realize HOW arrogant some people are, and rarely, have I met anyone who's been really really arrogant, and who hasn't been American.

(Notice, I'm only ONE DAY LATE! hahaha)

Lat said...

Truly a wonderful post on listening.Thank you for this great reminder! Now this very moment I'm listening to some birds chirping outside my windows :)

observant observer said...

Hi Susanne,
long time I didn't write here, maybe because I listen very much and dare not speak...hahahaha...I mean there were so many things that I didn't or don't know, so I'd rather not comment but listen to people or read people's mind. Or what I know had been explained well by other that I don't have to add my own comment. (Well, I am also absorbed by work and other hobbies lately ;-))

I don't know much American, though I have some relatives in America. They sometimes made me feel how different the world is. My cousins living there, are children of inter race marriage, so they are half Asian and half Caucasian. Where in Indonesia one wouldn't feel embarrassed with that, even one might probably even feel proud due to the mix of native Indonesian with people from more advance nation, they apparently don't feel the same and somehow I sniff that they felt rather not confident.

I'm not arguing that American are too dominating, I don't know about it. But I would rather criticize my own fellow Indonesians that might have been implanting unconsciously the feeling of being less worthy than the "bule" (this is what we call the white people, it comes from the world "white or pale" in Indonesia), perhaps due to being colonized hundred of years by Dutch and Portuguese make people still feel some sense of different class.

Don't you think that the White culture or perhaps more accurately the West have been dominating many fields through media? Well, at least in the television, Indonesian have so many channels to see, the Asian (Korean and Indian are so popular), the American , and our own programs. We are listening to all of them....;).

Susanne said...

Becky, of course we are friends! :-) Yes, I understand your impression. I know many great Americans, but I also realize a good number of them give off those arrogant vibes. Lots of self esteem out this way, I guess. :) And you really weren't even a day late since I posted this around ten one evening and you replied just hours later. Thanks much for your feedback!

Lat, awww, I can't wait to sit outside and listen to the birds chirping! Sounds great!

Observant, welcome back! This was cute!

"long time I didn't write here, maybe because I listen very much and dare not speak."


I really enjoyed your comment about your American relatives and also how people are perceived differently in your country due to their skin tones! I find that all fascinating and I'm really glad you shared that!

Yes, I think media does influence the outlook of the world A LOT!

Thank you all for your feedback!