Daily Riches: Are You Better at Talking or Listening? (Eugene Peterson, Isak Dinesen and Teresa of Avila)

“Listening is in short supply in the world today; people aren’t used to being listened to. I know how easy it is to avoid the tough, intense work of listening by being busy as when I let a hospital patient know there are ten more people I have to see.  …Too much of pastoral visitation is punching the clock, assuring people we’re on the job, being busy, earning our pay. Pastoral listening requires unhurried leisure, even if it’s only for five minutes. Leisure is a quality of spirit, not a quantity of time. Only in that ambiance of leisure do persons know they are listened to with absolute seriousness, treated with dignity and importance. Speaking to people does not have the same personal intensity as listening to them. The question I put to myself is not “How many people have you spoken to about Christ this week?” but “How many people have you listened to in Christ this week?” The number of persons listened to must necessarily be less than the number spoken to. Listening to a story always takes more time than delivering a message, so I must discard my compulsion to count, to compile the statistics that will justify my existence.” Eugene Peterson

“To be a person is to have a story to tell.” Isak Dinesen

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen
[and] slow to speak….”
James 1:19

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you more intense when you talk, or when you listen? What does your answer say about you?
  • Do you ever feel regret after a conversation that you have talked too much and listened too little?
  • Do you have a technique to subtly let someone know that at the moment you’re too busy to listen to them? Is that bad?
  • Listening that ministers requires “unhurried leisure”, where the person feels “treated with dignity.” Can you develop a practice of some kind to remind yourself to treat others with dignity when you listen to them?

“O Lord, in the silence of this night
let me hear the voice of my neighbor
so often drowned out
by the clamor of my own needs.
Let me not fool myself into thinking
that I can hear your voice
if I do not listen to theirs.”
Teresa of Avila


For More: The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

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