The Powerful Gift of Listening

Oct 13 / Ellen Burany
Many years ago, when I was a new Christian, Marilyn, a woman who had walked with Jesus much longer than me, spiritually took me under her wing.

As I met with her in the coming years, I learned more about knowing and following Jesus. Marilyn led me to the truth of Scripture and modeled how to have a dynamic relationship with God, which was invaluable.

But she also did something else that greatly impacted my heart and life.

She listened.

Marilyn provided a safe and grace-filled space for me to share my heart honestly and to process and ask questions. And this was crucial in my growth as a person and a follower of Christ.

Sometimes, we can underestimate the power of listening.

God's word tells us that we have a God who is "Immanuel, God with us." He is always present and He listens. He hears us. When I've experienced someone who embodies these same qualities - someone reflecting God by being fully present and offering unhurried listening, I've felt seen and known. And I've been drawn to a deeper understanding of my loving and gracious God who sees and understands me.

We live in a world where people desperately need Jesus.

Every human soul has a God-shaped void that only God and His love can fill. As Christians, God has called us to carry the love of Jesus to this world.

But we live in a world where many who don't know Jesus are wary of those of us who do. They haven't always felt loved by those who know Christ. And they have only sometimes felt known or listened to.

What if we as Christ-followers embodied the love of God to others
not just through our message or service to them but through giving them an experience of truly being heard and known, whether we agree with them or not? I wonder what kind of difference this would make.

As we walk with others in their journeys toward and with Jesus, listening well may not only be deeply ministering, but it may be life-changing for a person.

Listening well communicates that we genuinely care about others and what they have to say. It provides a safe space for people to explore their feelings and thoughts so that we understand more fully what they are experiencing. And as we know others better, we can respond more appropriately and helpfully as we walk with them.

We don't always realize it, but the space where listening occurs can also be a sacred place of God's transformation. When a person experiences having someone really hear them and ask significant Spirit-led questions, the Holy Spirit often reveals more of what's in their heart. And it's in that space that God often helps them notice and respond to how He is at work in transforming their hearts and lives.

As people who walk with others in their journeys toward and with God, many of us have been given some great tools and methodologies to help us.

But I often wonder if giving some attention to the skill of listening might make a world of difference in people's hearts and lives.

Listening well is a way of loving well. It reflects our very present and compassionate Jesus and makes space for the Spirit's voice in people's lives.

Listening is one of the greatest gifts we can give to others.

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Join our upcoming course Listening in Disciple Making and learn to listen well, a significant skill for life and ministry - with one ear to the Holy Spirit and one ear to another person.

The ways we listen and respond to others have the potential to minister our Lord's presence and love to others and help them deepen their journeys toward and with Jesus.

We hope you will join us and our presenter Ellen Burany on November 14 and November 21, as we allow God to shape us in our listening!

Ellen Burany

Ellen Burany, the presenter of Listening in Disciple Making course has over 25 years of ministry experience and has spent 19 years focused on leading, developing and ministering to Christian leaders.

She holds an M.A. in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care from Talbot School of Theology at Biola University and steps alongside others to help them grow and root deeper in their walks with Jesus.