Do you take care of how you listen? Did you notice that I said, “how“; not “what”? There is more to listening than merely hearing what someone says or write?
Jesus’ warning to the disciples is just as relevant to us; as it is to them. So, how does one become an active listener?
On the surface, you might think Jesus’ warning to the disciples only applies to listening to a sermon, at church or a message on YouTube. Here is a surprise, for you. It doesn’t stop there.
Today, we’d say that the disciples were instructed to become active listeners; rather than passively listen to whatever passes their fancy. Of course, Jesus’ admonition goes alot deeper. It involves giving critical thoughts to what you’re hearing. I am going to share some ideas that could be of help in other areas of your life.
Why is it so important to take such good care of how we listen? Have you ever heard of something called an echo chamber? Echo chambers are created when you surround yourself with like-minded opinions and belief systems.
Such chambers can create an illusion of safety and security. You can easily be lulled into a sense of complacency and apathy. These echo chambers are a recipe for disaster.
I will focus on my area of interest, Christianity. I’ll share some ideas for breaking out of the religious bubble. Don’t be discouraged, if you’re not a Christian. My suggestions can potentially be applied in other areas.
Echo chambers can create a distorted view of reality. Let’s face it. We like being comfortable and leery of anything that’s new or different. It’s human nature. Before the Internet, we seldom encountered challenges to our “safe spaces”.
With the Internet, it is a different story. As the popularity of the Internet, it did not take long before I encountered views different than my own worldview. How about you? I could have created my own echo chamber and hide in a crowd of like-minded individuals. Or, I could venture out into the raging sea of conflicts.
Do you know there is a hidden danger to these “safe spaces” or echo chambers?. They can lull you into thinking everyone in that group thinks exactly like you. Truth is, it is quite unlikely you and I will find anyone who totally agrees with either of us!
What if I refuse? Then you could be in for a world of hurt or a rude awakening. Do you recall the commotion on Facebook, during the 2016 US Election? I can still recall hearing “I can’t believe that you think this way! Yet, we go to the same church! Oh my gosh! I never actually knew you!”
Do you understand my point? We are not clones of each others. Each person has their own ideas, identity and ways of thinking. You could say the same thing about God, the Father. We’re not parrots.
What am I supposed to do? Hide on a deserted island? I don’t think so! Human beings are not built to live in social isolation. Both introverts and extraverts need social interaction. This means that we need to risk conflicts. Don’t be afraid to socialize with people, who think differently! Invest time with that person.
It is very easy to become complacent and develop a dull ear to what’s being said. Does this sound familiar? “If it’s interesting then I’ll listen. Just don’t say what I don’t want to hear!” Don’t be afraid to listen to or read something that causes you to be uncomfortable.
Why should I care to hear views different than my own? Am I suggesting that you roll over and blindly accept what’s being said? God did not give you a brain to fill up space in your head. In other words, “Keep an open mind, but don’t let your brain fall out!” Use it.
Taking care of how you hear is not just actively paying attention. Humility and a willingness to step out of your comfort zone are also keys ingredients in how we hear. Humility is not thinking so highly of yourself that you refused to learn. At the same time, you don’t think so poorly that you become a doormat.
Taking care of how you listen could be tied to stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Here’s an illustration of what happened to me. I was raised as a nominal Roman Catholic. I had a vague idea of Protestantism.
On television, I would watch Frederick Price of Ever Increasing Faith. I had thought his church was a Baptist church. Other than this, I had no ideas about what I was watching. As a kid, I just simply enjoyed watching the show. Dr. Frederick K. Price may have open the door for what may have come, years later.
In 1996, I walked into my first Black Pentecostal church. Though they do have an internal structure like the Catholics, these two churches are radically different in their style of worship and preaching. We are talking about religious culture shock.
Thankfully, Jesus had already prepared my heart through a certain televangelist named Fred Price. Nevertheless, I was truly stepping out of my comfort zone when I attended my first Pentecostal church.
One of the key lessons I learned is to not be narrow in my thinking. Dr. Price is not the only person that I watched. I am not certain of when I watch Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries. He has been a major help in my walk with Jesus.
If you’re living in an echo chamber then it’s precisely what can happen to you. Don’t just listen to sources that affirm your religious biases and assumptions. Don’t be afraid to talk with God about what you’re hearing and be willing to listen. Remember, the Holy Spirit is not a parakeet!
How does one take care of how he or she listens? Though I have an open mind, I did not check my brains at the door of that Pentecostal church. For me, it was an alien experience and I had a willingness to ask questions. Yes, I questioned what I saw and heard
Having a teachable heart requires a willingness to ask questions and to perhaps do some research. I am going to suggest two places that you can go to. the Bible and the Internet. The Internet can be a great place to learn; however, you should not take everything, at face value.
Talk with Jesus about what you’re reading or listening to. You can trust the Holy Spirit to guide you to all truth! Use this as an opportunity to go deeper with God. By doing so, you’ll be leaving the echo chamber behind.
Between the Scriptures and access to the Internet, it was easy check things out. However, I did not stop there. There is this thing called “prayer”. I can easily recall the many conversations I had with God, the Father about what I read or heard.
Since the Bible is divinely inspired and humanly written, it made perfect sense to talk to the Author. Guess what? The Holy Spirit is not afraid to point me to the Internet. Another time, the Holy Spirit prompted me to read my Strong Concordance for an answer.
Here is an illustration from Acts 17:10-11 that should ring home, today:
10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.Acts 17:10-11 [NASB]
I don’t think the Bereans were living in an echo chamber of religious ideas. They expressed a willingness to carefully listen to Paul and Silas. I am certain they asked questions and willingness to learn. Plus, they went a step further. They checked the Scriptures daily to see if it were so.
I’d say these people took to heart the idea of being careful of how you hear. Don’t you agree?