Early this morning, I was reading the story recorded in, Mark 7:33-35 where Jesus heals the man who was both deaf and dumb. I read the story slowly several times and that’s when it struck me, Jesus put His fingers into the man’s ears and healed his ears before He loosened His tongue. I wonder if there isn’t a lesson for us in this tiny story? I believe there is. I think beyond recognizing how amazing God’s miraculous power is, there is a lesson about the importance of listening first and then speaking.
If you’re like me, you sometimes get this backwards. How often do we speak before listening? James warns us that the tongue is a small part of the body but that it often gets us in trouble. (James 3:5-6). No kidding! Right? Have you ever spoken something and then instantly regretted what you said?
Here’s the thing, the words we speak are powerful and they can leave a lasting imprint on someone’s life. So we need to go back to model Jesus set here when He healed the man’s ears first and then loosened His tongue. As I’ve been thinking about this I’ve come up with 3 ways to remind myself to listen first and then speak:
- Pause: I’m trying…sometimes unsuccessfully, to remind myself to pause before speaking. For those of us who are mothers of adult kids this is critical to our relationship with them. It’s so easy to fall back into old patterns of parenting and offer advice. The truth is, our kids don’t want advice they want an empathic ear. I’m trying to practice pausing so that who ever is speaking to me is able to completely finish their thought before I dive in with mine.
- Pray: This one is a no brainer. But I need the reminder and so do you. Pray and ask Jesus to put His Almighty fingers in your ears to help you to listen attentively before you speak. Whether you’re leading a meeting, listening to a friend or hearing the story of your child’s day at school, silently invite Jesus to give your ears a tune up.
- Ask: In order to become a more attentive listener, I’ve learned to ask, “Do you feel heard.” Just because you’re not talking doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily heard what’s been communicated both in terms of words and feelings. So do yourself a favor and ask, “Do you feel heard?” If the person says, “No.” Ask if there’s something else you can do to help them feel heard.
Friend, listening is an important part of our spiritual transformation. In fact, I’ve just finished a book on listening that will be coming out in August! I’ll give you more details about that later but for now, this week, ask the Lord to put His fingers in your ears and loosen them to listen attentively to others. Here’s a question for you. Where do you feel the need to grow in your ability to listen? Leave a comment. I can’t wait to hear from you!