This past Saturday was a difficult day for so many in the Shoals area. It was the funeral for Sgt. Nick Risner of the Sheffield Police Department. I knew Matthew was very involved in preparations, so I waited until late that evening to call and check on him. My call woke him up from his sleep, so I didn’t talk long. I just let him know I was thinking and praying for him. I ended the call and prayed.
Early Sunday morning he called me back. And he talked. . . about his week. And I listened to pain and great tiredness as he described in clear details his week. . .and that Saturday. It must have been about 15 to 20 minutes. I didn’t try to “fix” him, I just listened. That listening helped me to pray–and the two churches I serve to pray for all those who were hurting.
And this morning, sitting on the front porch, listening to my music, I realized how important it is that we Listen. And I started thinking about how that so many do NOT want to Listen–they would rather talk–NAY–they want to SHOUT! It seems, at least to me, that the vast majority of people have lost The Art Of Listening. We live in a society and culture where more value is placed on talking and less value is placed on Listening.
Listening is more difficult to do that talking. Heck, you don’t even have to think to talk! In politics, in community, and unfortunately, even in church–we have forgotten the value and importance of Listening. Now, there are some who Listen–but they Listen for the wrong purpose. Their purpose is to fix the person talking. Think about that last statement for a moment–to fix. You do know that when you fix a pet, you are making them impotent and unable to reproduce?
My friends, I desire and pray that none of you forget the value of Listening! You don’t have to go to college to learn the Art Of Listening. I believe, with all my heart, that the Art Of Listening begins with the Heart Of Caring. Let’s stop talking at each other. Let’s stop shouting at each other. Let’s stop thinking that our opinions are so vital and important that we must get them across at any cost. Let’s stop trying to fix (making impotent) people around us.
Of all the useless dribble I learned decades ago at Emory, there is one lesson I have never forgot. The class was on Christian Care and Counseling. I can’t remember the instructor’s name, but I do remember what he did–he was a chaplain at Emory University Hospital. Amazing how we remember what someone does for others even when we can’t remember their name. Anyhow, what he said was this: “Never under estimate the power of your presence. You do not have to give them good answers–if they know you care enough to be there to listen. There is something powerful in the ministry of just being there.” Care enough to Listen!