I’ve said it before on this site: I’m not the best listener. In fact, I’ve written about ways I could listen better and lead better by listening. I’m learning in my struggle that not listening can cost me more than I should want to pay. When we don’t listen well . . .
- We miss the feelings behind words. When we listen with one ear, we can’t watch body language, look into eyes, or sense the emotions behind words. That’s particularly bad when we’re not listening to someone we claim to love.
- We miss an opportunity to learn. Most of us have much to learn, and others have much to teach us – especially in informal, face-to-face, life-on-life conversations. We won’t learn, though, if we’re not listening.
- We become a poor witness for Christ. We teach that God listens to us when we pray. We affirm that He feels our touch like Jesus felt the touch of the bleeding woman in Mark 5. When we neither listen nor sense the hurt of people around us, we show that we’re not like the Christ we proclaim.
- We hinder the development of deeper relationships with others. Nothing about unengaged, unconcerned, and uncommitted listening leads to greater fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.
- We shepherd badly. When we don’t listen well, we sometimes jump to offer solutions without understanding the issues. That’s not good pastoring.
- We make dumb decisions. Some of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made were decisions I made without listening to those around me.
- We reveal our unrecognized addictions. Even if “addictions” is too strong a word, we reveal something when we don’t listen well because we’re tuned in to our phone or our television.
- We will miss something important somewhere. I know that’s true because it’s happened to me. “I just didn’t hear you” doesn’t work as an explanation when “I really wasn’t listening” is more the truth.
- We might affirm something we’ll regret. It’s simply easier to nod “yes” when you’re not really listening than it is to say, “no.” That’s dangerous.
- We reveal idolatry. I know that’s a hard way to end this post, but I think it’s an accurate assessment. We often fail to listen well because we assume that what we’re doing is more important than anything else.
What would you add to this list?