By Rev. Lori Ethridge
Minister to Senior Adults
We have many biblical examples highlighting the importance of hearing and listening. In Romans, we read that faith comes from hearing. And in James, we are admonished to be quick to listen and slow to speak. I fondly recall my grandmother explaining to me that because I had two ears and one mouth, I should listen twice as much as I spoke! That same grandmother taught me not to believe everything I heard. In other words, we should not necessarily listen to just anyone. In the Gospel of Mark, on the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples heard a voice speaking from a cloud saying, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.”
In Deuteronomy 6:4, Moses proclaims, “Hear O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” This short passage is known as the shema. Jesus includes it (Mark 12:29) when he answers the scribe who asks, “Which is the greatest commandment?” According to Jesus, the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and secondly, to love your neighbor as yourself. Listening is an act of love, and it involves paying attention to another with your entire being; with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. One of the ways we express our love to God is to listen and to heed what God says.
Noted author, educator and motivational speaker, Stephen R. Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” There are so many talking heads these days, especially during a presidential election year. Yet, it seems that listening is a lost art. What would it take for us as individuals, or as a congregation, to improve our ability to listen? One way to hone our listening skills might be to allow more time in our day for prayer; listening as God speaks to us in that still, small voice. I am sure you can think of other ways, and I hope you will share them with me… I’m all ears!