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Listening To Each Other

By Michael Lane, Executive Director, Delve Christian Ministries
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For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." But if instead of showing love among yourselves you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another." Galatians 5:13-14

I overheard a conversation a few days ago at lunch which began when a woman noticed one of her co-workers looking downcast. She sat beside him at the lunch table and asked him if he wanted to discuss what was bothering him. He began to talk about the recent trouble he was having relating to his daughter, and it was obvious from his tone and his expression that this was a serious matter which was weighing heavily on him. He had barely begun to explain the essence of the problem when the young woman interrupted, exclaiming, "I know exactly what you mean! My daughter..." And just like that, the conversation shifted as she went on for several minutes describing her own situation. When she finally paused to take a bite of her meal, the man got up and walked away dejectedly. Without missing a beat, she turned to the next person at the table and continued talking about her daughter. I had a pretty strong reaction at the time. I remember thinking, "You don't care about his situation! You just wanted an excuse to start talking!"

It's easy to be critical of this woman, but realistically, this kind of thing goes on all the time. I have done it to my wife and she has done it to me. I have seen pastors do it on many occasions. Few of us are immune. We are rarely listening; usually, we are just waiting impatiently for our turn to talk. We nod and agree in all the right places, but really we are pondering the next thing we are about to say.

It's a shame that so many of us are guilty of this offense, and it speaks volumes about how most people really feel about themselves and those around them. If you struggle with this as much as I do, then it ought to be very humbling when you realize just how difficult and rare it is to have a conversation with someone during which you are far more interested in what they are saying than what you are about to say. It's hard to clear our mind, offer our undivided attention and just listen.

If we dig deeper, we will discover that our egocentric conversations are just one of many ways in which we fail to demonstrate love for each other. I could just as easily point to any of a long list of ways we fail to keep this commandment. I chose this one because it is so subtle and pervasive that for the most part, we've simply stopped noticing that we've stopped listening. I'm sure if you were to ask the woman at the lunch table, she wouldn't have any idea that she had done anything wrong.

The next time you're speaking to someone, especially if they are hurting, make an effort to erase any thoughts of yourself. Instead, give them one hundred percent of your attention. Make a commitment to ensuring that they are able to get their point across, and don't worry about yours. It seems like such a small thing, but it will make a huge difference in not only how you perceive people, but how they perceive you.

You see, loving your neighbor is not like loving your spouse. It may not be something you feel, but it is something that you do. It's the act of sacrificing your own needs and desires for the sake of someone else.

You can demonstrate that love in such a meaningful way by just listening.
 

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Comments


Thanks! I really needed this. I'm presently experiencing the same with my wife. I am the one who has the problem. Please pray for me and my wife as this has put a wedge between us.
12/14/2007 7:41:00 AM - anonymous


Thanks for the reminder that it's not about us and our selfish desires. We should always put others first, especially in these types of situations.
12/14/2007 11:25:45 AM - anonymous


Wow.. This is such a problem of mine, so much so that God showed me this page when I was looking for something completely diifferent..

Lord Jesus I pray that you heal me so that I may hear others and put them before myself.
12/16/2007 7:53:08 AM - anonymous


I must say that I love these devotionals...I just went in looking for "free online devotionals" and came out with so much more...millions of easy-to-understand messages that address exactly the problems I have. Thank you so much for posting these devotionals; you help greatly (especially on Sunday mornings when you're too nauseous to go to church!).
12/16/2007 10:27:44 AM - anonymous


I really needed to read this and repent of this myself. Thank you Jesus for leading me here to be confronted.
12/26/2007 9:10:49 AM - anonymous


I notice this all the time!!!! I get so annoyed when I am telling someone something so personal and the next thing I know it is all about their situation ........... Just like this guy, I feel dejected and rejected. As a result I have made an earnest effort NOT to do this myself....and I keep on working on it, cos it is such a natural tendancy to interrupt and add my two or three cents!
Thanks for the reminder!
12/28/2007 11:34:42 PM - anonymous


This devotional is deifinitely something i needed to read...Many times in my household we are all talking at the same time and no one really gets anything they said across....especially my precious grandchildren. We forget how important it is to listen to them and show them that they are important and what they have to say is important. Please pray for me and my daughter that we will listen with quietness and love to what they have to say to us.They are after the most important people in the world to us !
12/31/2007 7:14:05 AM - anonymous


Thanks for this devotional. I am an only child and its always been about me. I am always the one who has the problem listening. Reading this has helped to reinforce that I should put others before myself because everyone has problems. Not just me!!
12/31/2007 6:25:28 PM - anonymous


You are right I do this all the time. I never ever relized it untile I read this. Pray that Jesus takes totall and complete controll of my mouth, thought,and feelings amen.
1/2/2008 4:59:03 PM - anonymous


I really appreciated this devotional. I recently had a argument with my sister -in- law and I really wanted to let her know how deeply hurt I was at her comments and while I did need to let her know that... God gently let me know that sometimes it is good to listen also. I can see how if we don't listen to each others burdens with out comments it can be truley distructive. Word build up or tear down. Sometimes just listening can be the greatest conversation of your life. Amen.
1/2/2008 10:06:28 PM - anonymous


Yes- I struggle with not listening also. I like the part of the devotional that read, "If we dig deeper, we will discover that our egocentric conversations are just a symptom of a deeper problem, the most obvious and common of a whole litany of ways in which we fail to really love our neighbor."

Thank you everyone. God Bless.
1/4/2008 10:26:36 AM - anonymous


to God be the glory if this happen to me sometime you feel like butting in the conversation but i try to hold my tounge and give the person an incourging word.
1/7/2008 2:49:06 PM - anonymous


You make a great point! your topic is one that should be repeated. It would be nice to reach the ones we love with this and much more.
"So then, My beloved brethren, let every man be swift to listen, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the rightiosness of God." james 1:19

God bless and lets all growin the truth in love!
Karl
1/12/2008 3:01:23 AM - anonymous


I too have a problem with butting in and I thank the Lord for leading me to this devotional. Please Lord continue to remind me how important it is to really listen to others in this fast paced world we live in. There are too many times when our busy lives keep us from really taking the time to care by listening. Its such a small thing but can have such a huge impact on somone's life. Keep me humble Lord and keep me close.
1/23/2008 12:20:42 PM - anonymous


This was very interesting and has made me reflect on the way that I listen. Sometimes I get distracted and many times I'm hasty to put my point foward, without totaly considering the point of the other. If I was on the recieving side I wouldn't like it, so I will ask for the Lords strength and graceto help me listen to others as i would like to be lstened to. Thankyou
1/25/2008 9:03:37 PM - anonymous


Thank you for pointing out that love is more than a feeling- it is an action. Sometimes in life I think we have to act before we feel- just like how the act of smiling or laughing can put you in a better mood. I think that acting in a loving way, like listening, can help us develop the feelings of love for our neighbor. If nothing else, (as Christians) listening should stir up compassion in our hearts. And how can that lead to anything but love?
1/31/2008 4:34:59 PM - anonymous


mmm...this is good... it got me thinking about my own life.
2/8/2008 4:10:11 PM - anonymous


i needed this in order to share word of God we are ourselfs doing this people be more willing to listen to us do watch us anyone can talk the talk but actions are what i watch went i came to the lord i study how my spirtual parents treated each other was couple lady always put husband down i touch about him because he patince and kind to her, that area even as a new baby in the lord i needed God to help me with wanted lean to have that kindess under fire that he did our actions do say alot about if we walk what we peach or claim my goal everyday to walk in love of God this area still everyday needed God help greaty in i like so honest and straight forward share word we need all go before daily area we are weak or need fixiing my flesh sometimes surface say some thing angry or hurt very brokeness you feel pray we all trudly walk and show actions of love today first day read on line i blessed lister back of bible study feb1o first time on computer feel sense people walk with God really can. thankyou loving God obeying His calling on your life to share His word...and all give sow good seed into this minstry. GOD BLessed you ALL!
2/12/2008 12:48:10 PM - Jean Beck, Member of Delve into Jesus since 2/12/2008


Thank you so VERY MUCH for your prayer, time, labor, and obedience when putting this devotion together. My wife just helped me to see my problem with listening to others. I thank God for the relationship she and I have, in which we can share our feelings and be honest when we see faults. This is a mighty essential in our spiritual growth. I thank God for your devotion, for it has helped me see how to put the remedy to action. May God Bless you and your ministry! Ben K. Clements (Husband, Father, Pastor, Friend, Son, and Brother) I list these that you may know how many relationships you have blessed.
2/28/2008 6:52:24 AM - anonymous


I'm stunned at how selfish I can be in my conversations, especially ones where my intentions are to love and encourage someone. In fact I often do the opposite just by putting my own agenda first.

Thank you for this devotion as it has highlighted a huge problem the Lord has needed to bring to my attention. I MUST listen and ask for the Spirit's leading to speak - not just ramble on for my own benefit.

Please keep these devotions coming - they are such a blessing!

Sydney
3/30/2008 3:32:13 PM - Julia, Member of Delve into Jesus since 3/11/2008


Thank you so much. i am guilty of not listening to my friends and loved ones and family and even my enemies or those who don't like me. I am gaining my self esteems back and God is working miricles in my mind and my confidence. God is showing me that I am ok and that i'll be ok and that everything is working out just great. i am trusting God so much now forgeting the past and just believing in God's plan for my life. I need to listen to other people more and not worry about my problems and I will in Jesus name. I will be more concerned about others problems because I know that my problems will be worked out in Jesus name thank God amen. JW
1/29/2009 10:35:11 AM - anonymous


Very thought provoking. I am very glad that I cam across your site. Deaconess Woody in Buffalo.
2/12/2009 3:11:04 AM - anonymous


I thank God for bringing me to this site. My ex husband divorced me bcos he says I always have this I am right and you must listen to me kinda of tone when talking to him. I guess in my life I never did listen to my ex husband or my mom or any body or even God bcos I all I think about is myself.

By not listening to God or my husband or my mom or my son, I AM SHOWING THEM THAT I DO NOT LOVE THEM AND GOD JUST WANT TO POINT THIS OUT TO ME, that sometimes bcos I don't listen to them, they feel very unhappy about it and as things go on and on, it will make them burst and leave me.

I must learn to listen to my what God want to tell me and what my ex husband wants to say or what my mom wants to say, and not only listen but pay attention to them but looking directly at them.





2/16/2009 8:13:57 PM - anonymous


I was looking for a link like this. Thank you for reminding me to truely listen when someone is sharing something with me. I am easily distracted by things happening around me and it is difficult to focus on what is being said. Next time someone is talking to me, I will ask them, "Did I understand you correctly when you said such and such." In other words, I will try to make a sumation of what was said to me. I believe that will help me focus, and let the person know that I was truley listening, even in a distracting situation.

God bless your ministry, and thank you.

3/23/2009 1:34:25 AM - anonymous


Hello to all my name is Sam S and I find myself practicing this same kind of disrespect towards all especially my own spouse. I need to change and want to change my ways in this area and in many other faults I possess that are not Jesus like. Please pray for me and that God, our Father, would grant me this change and all other faults that I possess that deminish my love for my neighbor and my spouse. Amen
3/28/2009 11:26:54 PM - anonymous


This has happened to me several times where i was just waiting for that moment to talk and not really listening to de other person. ITS A BAD HABIT THAT WE ALL HAVE. I believe we can get through this if we just have compassion on each other and stop thinking about ourselves for one minute. God knows exactly where, when and what time our problems must be dealt with. So i think we should all think like this; RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT THIS PERSON'S PROBLEMS MUST BE DEALT WITH, OUR TIME WILL COME. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HELPING US TO REALIZE OUR FAULTS. MAY GOD RICHLY BLESS YOU.
4/3/2009 9:05:08 AM - anonymous


I volunteer for an inner-city ministry in Denver, CO. building relationships with homeless youth. It is very pertinent to listen and not speak over them so they are able to communicate their situation without interruption. To do so would simply be a sign of disrespect. I am so blessed that so many of these kids have been vulnerable enough to share their brokenness, and in fact, through time I have learned so much from them and been allowed to share my own pain and brokenness as well! God is so good.
4/3/2009 12:01:03 PM - anonymous


wow, totally spoke to me. thank you so much for sharing!!!
4/13/2009 2:13:22 AM - anonymous


i like this ... i myself experience this kind of problem... thank you this will help me dealing people who are having problems... i should listen actively to them and not think about myself.
4/29/2009 9:29:13 PM - anonymous


good am..I realy thankfull about this devotion I read...actually this is One of my struggle in this few day ago,, i am glad to read the devotion of "Listening To Each Other '' and its give me new IDEA how to listen to Others first,before I think my own ,,,it is true to listen to others first than your own problem....thank you ..God and bless you ...

from jorrie P. pagdato Philippines...
7/2/2009 8:31:46 PM - anonymous



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