The Importance of Listening
Studies have shown that non-Christians feel Christians don’t listen enough to them or show care. Several years back, I read an article by Outreach Magazine that quoted a non-Christian saying, “I’d say 75% of these people don’t really care who I am. They just want to build up their church or something. They don’t even ask me what my name is.”
Good listening skills are always important, and evangelism is not an exception. Being an introvert, it is easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking that I am a good listener. However, that mentality is far from the truth. Being an introvert is not equivalent to being a good listener. Listening skills are something we all could hone.
A Modern Day Example
Sometimes the best way to win someone over is by first listening as demonstrated by the movie Bella. (warning: ***Spoiler Alert***) The main character, Jose, takes an interest in the plight of a young woman named Nina. His own pain seems to have created an understanding for her suffering, and he spends an entire day listening to her woes.
She confides that she is pregnant, and proceeds to tell him why she wants to have an abortion. The observer can tell that this pains him, but he listens to her patiently. As the evening draws to a close, they lie on a sandy beach staring up at the stars. "I can't have this baby and have it suffer with me," she says, after telling him what her life was like without a father.
The movie proceeds with a few rapid snippets of the continuing events, culminating with another scene on a beach. However, this time Jose is sitting and watching a little girl running in the sand. Jose had adopted Nina’s baby.
Jose hadn’t agreed with Nina’s choice in life, but he waited for the opportune moment to speak. If Jose had been quick to judge or quick to tell his opinion, he likely never would have had the chance to adopt Nina’s baby girl. His listening made a difference.
A Few Questions
In evangelism, the importance of listening cannot be underestimated. Let’s ask ourselves a few questions:
- Do I frequently judge a person based on his or her first sentence, without listening to the rest of what is being said?
- Do I ignore what people say if I don’t agree with them or don’t like the way they say something?
- Do I spend more time thinking about what I am going to say next than I do in listening to what is being said?
- Do I interrupt people to share the gospel, or for that matter, any reason at all?
- Do I struggle to listen actively and engage in conversations using my senses?
If the answer is “Yes” to any of the above questions, it might be time to work on improving your listening skills. Good listening takes hard work, but it is worth the effort.