In undertaking this journey of examining our own spiritual fullness, it’s much easier to examine areas where we are strong, but it’s more useful to look into areas in which we are weak. For myself, this is one of the latter, for in my own spiritual practices, listening is not my strong suit. Oh, I’m a very good listener, once you have my attention, but getting my attention in the first place can be quite another matter.
I’m not bad at encouraging other people, I’m not bad at getting down to the real issue that is bothering somebody, and I can be pretty effective at recognizing a teachable moment and helping others to see something they had previously missed. I am not naturally good at seeing a person’s pain when I say “How’s it going?” and they say, “great.” To me, you said you were great and that’s that: You’re great. Why should I suspect you might be telling a lie, just because that’s what I’d do if things weren’t so great? Maybe it’s a “guy thing,” as I’ve been told a few times.
When we fail to really listen when people are speaking, we will miss out on all sorts of things, including finding out that our brother or sister is hurting. It’s sad enough that in so doing, we are not being helpful to them, but it might even be worse than that when we consider that we ourselves are missing out on an opportunity to be blessed. Bringing comfort to those who are hurting and healing to those who are in pain is a twofold blessing; here’s why…
I can be pretty dense in this area if left on my own. You said you were fine, I believe you. But you are not fine; how was I supposed to know that? This is a question I’ve asked myself many times, and the answer is that I would have known it if I had been listening, for had I been listening, I would have had the discernment to know. Remember, that these ‘journey’ posts are about drinking deeply of the Spirit! That Spirit is the Holy Spirit that indwells us, and it is that same Holy Spirit that provides the discernment, the comfort and the healing, not me.
It is imperative that we listen to the Holy Spirit as we go through our day! I cannot imagine why more scholars do not consider this a “classic” spiritual practice, rather than an expressive one. as it strikes me as being pretty basic. In fact it is so basic that I never even thought about it before now!
Here’s a little secret that you may not come across very often: There is no better way to grow spiritually and to drink more deeply of the Spirit than by letting the Holy Spirit minister through you.
No, this isn’t some strange and mystical thing, no you can’t force it or manipulate it, but when it happens it is a life changing thing both for you and most importantly, for someone else. I believe that it will tend to go in the direction of a spiritual gift that you have. In my experience, these things happen when we are open to them, when we offer ourselves for God’s service, and when our relationship with our Lord is otherwise strong. Finally, these things happen so as to build the body of Christ, and never to bring attention, recognition or praise for ourselves. So, let’s be ready to listen!
Next time, let’s talk about preaching/teaching… and some more about listening