Listening with Your Eyes

Here is an old story:

397378_10151635582662040_814112548_nA little girl came home from the school with a drawing she’d made in class. She danced into the kitchen, where her mother was preparing dinner.

“Mom guess what”, she squealed waving her drawing.

Her mother never looked up. “What” she said, tending to the pots.

“Guess what!”, the child repeated waving the drawing.

“What” the mother said tending to the plates.

“Mom you’re not listening”

“Sweetie yes I am” – said the mother.

“Mom”, the child said, “You’re not listening with your eyes”.

I think this is true for us in today’s age more than ever. So many of us when we are listening to one another we no longer listen with our eyes. We don’t deeply show our attention, our empathy, and our connection to the people we are listening to. We check our phones, check the clock, check our surroundings, but aren’t checking in with the person we are actually talking with.

I know I am as guilty as most. I’m tempted when my phone buzzes to check that text. I’m tempted to just quick check Twitter. I’m tempted to look at the clock. None of these things are bad, but all of these things communicate that the person you are talking with isn’t your top priority. In essence I’m tempted to not listen with my eyes, and then not with my heart either.

And here is why this matters, because my bet is that if someone has influenced and changed you in a deep way ~ they were a good listener. My bet is they made you a priority. My guess is they showed that you mattered by giving you their undivided attention. But having someone’s undivided attention is so rare these days, but that’s why it’s so valuable, counter-cultural, and transformational. How often you do you think your kids have someone completely rapt attention in the day? How often does your co-worker have someone truly interested in them and not just waiting for their turn to speak? How often does your neighbor have someone who isn’t rushing by but listening with their heart and eyes?

My point is that deep listening, with our hearts and eyes, is special because it is both so rare and transformative. And if we want to be people who bless, share life, change communities, and reveal Jesus’ love it will start with how we listen. It will start by putting aside our agendas, our phones, our distractions and saying to our kids, family, friends, and neighbors you matter to me with what’s going on in your life. Because that is the model of Jesus. We always have his attention, and it’s always undivided. So why not try giving that gift to someone today.

Path’s that Lead to God: Listening

Take a moment and think about your relationship with God. How often is there silence in your conversation? How often are you bringing things to him? Does God though have space to speak?

As a youth pastor I once had a youth come to me and say that God isn’t speaking to them. That they want to hear God’s voice. I said, “Often it’s not that God isn’t speaking, but that we aren’t listening.” So after discussing we realized that in their life they woke up listening to music, listened to an iPod on the bus, sat in school texting, played on their phone on the way home, watched TV, and went to bed. The point is their life was so full there was no space to listen.

So for me a path that leads to God is creating spaces to listen for God. A Hebrew sage Solomon ibn Gabirol wrote,

“The beginning of wisdom is silence. The second stage is listening.”

So for me I realized that rarely do I not have music, sound, or noise on. In the car I listen to podcasts, at my office I listen to music, at home the Olympics are currently always on. So I started to create times to listen. Car rides just with me and God. Lunches outside with the breeze. Moments of silence in my life where I simply wait and listen.

And I think you can do the same. We need to be like Samuel where he says, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:10). So what can you do to listen? What creates noise in your life that you can turn down? Because I do believe God is listening and we will hear it if we start to listen…

Community Intervention ~ Betrayal Prevention

Last Sunday we explored how a community can prevent betrayal. You can download the sermon here.

What we discovered is that if we walk with people we can stop people from “walking out into the darkness” alone. That’s what happens to Judas. He is with his friends, brothers, and community and he walks out into the darkness under suspicious circumstances with no one inquiring about him. No one cared enough to stop Judas, to ask how he was doing, or to ask where he was going. The community let him walk out into the darkness alone.

But we can learn from the disciples’ mistakes.We can care. We can connect. We can stop people from walking into darkness, sin, and betrayal. But how? By always walking with them. If someone is walking out into the dark, you can walk with them bringing the light and love of Jesus with you. If a community walks together then no one will walk alone. That reality can change the course and direction of someone’s life.

On Sunday we landed on three ways you can walk deeply with others. You can give people your time, your full attention, and space. You can give people time to check in, to catch up, and to actually have a conversation. Deep conversations can’t happen over Facebook, or on route to get coffee after church. Give some time for someone to open up.

Then also give them your full attention. So often when we are in conversations with people we are just waiting for our turn to talk. Turn that around. Wait for your turn to listen. Give the other person your full attention, not figuring out your next question, when you can jump in, or what you can say. Make them the focus.

And lastly, give them some space to talk and to go deeper. So ask some difficult but important questions. Ask how they are truly doing. Give them space and an opportunity to talk to you. They might not choose to, but at least they will know you cared enough to ask.

So this week ~ walk deeply with those around you. Make a decision to never let a friend walk out into the darkness alone; and give people your time, attention, and space. Take your responsibility to your community and friends seriously. Never let anyone walk into the darkness alone, by making a commitment to walk with them wherever they may go…