This Advent my Tuesday posts will focus on often overlooked gifts church leaders can give their congregations. I have seen these gifts deeply move God’s people. Such gifts that can form and shape the culture of thriving congregations.
Let’s call her Gladys. I was speaking with Gladys after her pastor had served her church for about a year. I asked her how she thought the new pastor was doing. The conversation immediately shifted from relaxed to serious.
“Oh, Pastor Wilson, our pastor is the best listener. He doesn’t just hear what I’m saying; he hears what’s on my heart.”
What a wonderful gift to give God’s people; the ability to listen and hear and understand.
Actively listening is beneficial in any relationship. It conveys concern, generates empathy. Such listening can calm anxieties and still apprehensions.
It can be even more powerful between Christians. When a leader from our church listens to me – really listens – there is a tangible sense that my church wants to hear my thoughts. For so many of us as members, that matters.
I wonder if the power of active listening goes even deeper. The Apostle Peter reminds us that we are “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). So when a leader from my church hears me out, the leader is also God’s representative. Not only does God hear and understand my concern, God has also provided brothers and sisters to do the same.
It’s so, so easy for leaders to get distracted these days. Appointments are piled up like memos on a desk. Smart phones constantly beckon. Fragments of lost thoughts surface and resurface in the midst of conversations, bobbing like driftwood in our minds.
On one hand, life in a sound byte era makes active listening more difficult. On the other hand, it is more apparent when leaders listen well. Active listening seems more appreciated in the current social climate.
Steve Nash is former professional basketball player. He played for the Phoenix Suns when we lived in the Valley of the Sun. Over and over again, people who met Nash said the same thing about him: “When we were talking, he made me feel as if I was the only person in the world.”
What a wonderful gift for leaders to give God’s people.
In the comments, share about a time a fellow Christian impacted your life by listening. If you prefer, shoot me an email. Additional posts in this series include…