I want to see better and listen better. Until we recognise what terrible listeners we are we’ll never learn. You may have a PhD, have a wealth of experience, with a mind packed with information that you can apply to many given situations. You impress friends and colleagues with your learning, wit and analysis. It could have earned you promotion to places of authority and influence but despite knowing much you have learned little.
There are tests to help see the extent of your learning. Do you find yourself listening carefully when people pass the time of day, with you and find their answer unsatisfactory? When you ask someone how they are and they reply fine, do you feel inclined to stop and engage to find out what they mean? Do you give time to your colleague to find out what he means by, “great thank you,” or, “another day in paradise”?
For the married men ask your wife if you listen carefully. Try a test. Ask her if you can tell her about the things she believes. Explain her attitudes to important issues in her life; her relationships with her work colleagues and tell her something about her friends’ characters and situations. Perhaps you could put the icing on the cake by recalling how she feels about her favourite books and movies.
Embarrassment is a wonderful window into your mind and heart. It’ll reveal all kind of things for you. Have you been walking down the street, seen a colleague or neighbour approaching and while they are some way off not been sure where to look? You feel a touch self-conscious, look over at the horizon, or down at your feet, until you reach a comfortable distance to look at them and engage with polite nod. Your heart is revealing to you that you don’t love them.
Think of when you see a youngster running to a parent or lovers racing to greet each other on the station platform. There’s an model of how people who care deeply for one another approach. Their gaze stays fixed on the object of their love and they have no hesitation exhibiting their affections and excitement. The thing is everyone you see on the street is worthy of equal respect. They are image bearers with equal value, dignity and honour. If you look upon each one in the sure knowledge that despite how they may look, walk, or behave you are called to love them, serve them and care for them, it may make a profound difference to your walk through life.
You have a soul and it was were created for relationship. Relationships require intimacy. With each person you meet you should seek a degree of intimacy. It can be achieved with the bus driver, the checkout person or the postman. It just takes that extra attention to detail, handing your note over with two hands or giving a little time to listen to their story. We miss so many chances each day, people have fascinating stories to accompany seemingly ordinary lives, given time there is much more to learn.