What is listening? How would you describe it? Is it more than just hearing? Can someone listen but not really hear? Is there a difference? If so what is it? Is it just hearing someone speak words or does it involve things such as, tone of voice, eye contact, body language, posture, etc. etc?

Write down and discuss in your group your definition of listening:

Is listening just about people? What about God? What about what is going on inside ourselves?

In this study we will touch on listening in a holistic way!

Read about the three parts of a person Paul refers to in 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

1. Spirit. Listening To God.

 According to John 10:27 what is the first thing Jesus said His sheep do?

Read Eli’s instruction to young Samuel. 1 Samuel 3:9.

Read Luke 10:38-42. Discuss what Luke says about Mary and Jesus’ response to Martha’s concerns.

Read what Jesus said to some teachers of religious law and Pharisees. Matthew 12:41-42.

What does it mean to have, “ears to hear”? Matthew 11:15, 13:9.

Discuss the following:

Human ears hear many sounds, but there is a deeper kind of listening that results in spiritual understanding. When speaking in parables, Jesus was not hiding truth from sincere seekers, because those who were receptive to spiritual truth understood the illustrations. To others they were only stories without meaning. #

How well do you listen to God? Do you have “ears to hear” and as a result understand? How do you know one way or the other? How important do you think it is to God that you listen to Him?

What about God listening to us? Read what the Psalmist said: Psalm 66:16-20, 116:1-2, 18:6.

2. Listening To Your Soul. (mind, will and emotions)

Discuss in your group the following:

What about listening to your soul? Can we be aware of the condition of our soul and what is going on there, eg: like the fruit on a tree tells us about the condition of the tree? What are the thoughts we have, are they about the things of God (Philippians 4:8) or about they things of the sinful nature? Galatians 5:19-21

Are you daily being “transformed by renewing your minds (changing the way you think)” (Romans 12:2) to becoming more like Jesus? 2 Corinthians 3:18. How do you know one way or another? How do we ‘renew our minds’?

What about the state of your emotions? Are they controlled by the Holy Spirit or your sinful nature especially when you are under pressure? Again how can you know?

3. Listening To Your Body

What is the condition of your body? What about your

  • Physical fitness? How much do you exercise?
  • Health? Do you eat mostly healthy food?
  • Rest.? Do you have sufficient sleep, and “chill out” time?

Our bodies are sending out signals/messages all the time. How well are listening to them/tuned into receiving them?

4. Listening To Others

Read James 1:19.

Discuss the following:

When you are in conversation with others what % of the time do you talk and what % do you listen?

Should there be a balance? If so what would be a good guide? Should we have boundaries?

Discuss the following:

When we talk too much we communicate to others that we think our ideas are more important than theirs. James (James 1:19.) wisely advisers us to reverse this process. Put a mental stop watch on your conversations, and keep track of how much you talk and how much you listen. When people talk with you, do they feel that their viewpoints and ideas have value? #

What hinders us from being a good listener? What are the benefits to those listening and those being listened too?

Discuss in your group the following notes written by Leigh taken mainly from an American journalist, Ronnie Polanecsky who spoke about “Deliberate Listening.” (recommended viewing, 18:38 minutes)

She discovered that people in the community who were known to be good listeners had the trait of being able to ‘suspend judgement’. We like to be ‘right’. The ones who people were drawn to and loved as good listeners, listen and don’t need to be ‘right’. Does that mean that the listeners didn’t have an opinion? Probably not, we all have opinions and values. But it meant that the speakers felt comfortable that they were welcomed and would be heard. That the listener would suspend judgement and seek understanding.

Good listeners were also willing to explore the grey areas in life – places of questioning, learning and growing. But we don’t like growth – it is hard, uncomfortable, challenges preconceived ideas and notions.

If being a good listener requires a suspension of judgement and a willingness to explore the grey areas – what challenges does this place upon Christian listeners?

What implications might this have for listening to people who are caught up in this broken world?

For example, how would you go listening to a friend who confided in you that they had recently had an abortion?  Or cheated on their spouse?

5. Conclusion

Are you a good listener or do you have room for growth whether listening to God, yourself or other people? Are there things which would hinder you from becoming a better listener?

When you listen to others, where is your focus? Do you listen with compassion and without judgement?

Consider Ronnie Polanecsky’s closing words;

“I’m telling you deliberate listening, the kind that happens when we let go of being ‘right’, when we let go of our judgements so we can grab onto things that are so much better (kindness, compassion, connection) that can change the world, the world we live in and the one that lives in our hearts.”

# Taken from ‘Life Application Study Bible”


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