Listen to understand.
Do you have one of those friends or people in your life that tend to have a response to what you’re saying before you even finish?! Unfortunately, I’ve been “that guy” for most of my life. I usually find myself responding to people before they can even finish their statement. Thankful I’ve learned the difference between ‘Listening to respond’ vs ‘Listening to understand’.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still listen to respond way more than I should but I do find myself being more aware of this. It takes effort and intentionally to listen to understand and does not come easy for a lot of people. I’m so bad that when I hear people talk
, I’m automatically either finding a solution or thinking to myself of how I would have said that just a little different.
I recently read an incredible devotion by Oswald Chambers entitled “Must I Listen?” In this devo, he writes about how the people of Israel were okay with listening to Moses tell them what God said but did not want God to actually speak to them (Exo 20:19).
How many times in our life do we find ourselves in this same situation. We are okay with listening to a good speech or sermon and enjoy feeling a little inspired to change (when the change can still occur on “our time”). We still want to be in control over the situation. We want to hear it from someone else because there is always a way out for us. If we don’t want to change or take heed to the information, we can simply roll it off as something they should do or maybe that was for the person sitting beside you.
When God speaks to us, it goes to a whole new level. When God speaks to us we can only make one of two choices - to either do what He says or completely disobey Him. There is no room for excuses or looking for a different way.
If we aren’t careful, we will also listen to respond to God but not respond in the way that He wants us to - because we don’t hear Him all the way through. We may get the first part then move without Him finishing.
A great example would be God calling you to missions so you quickly respond with a “yes Lord, I’ll go on a mission trip”. Easy enough right? But what if you actually listen to understand. What if you listened long enough to hear God say “No, not just a mission trip. I want your life to be a mission.” Now it’s starts to get real. Because just going on a mission trip wouldn’t be fully obeying God - it wouldn’t be to that next level of where He is actually calling you.
I’m afraid that we refuse to listen to understand God way more than we are willing to admit. Why? Because we are afraid that we may have to get uncomfortable. Afraid we may have to make a change that we don’t want to make.
So I leave you with the question...
Are you listening to respond or are you listening to understand?
“Understanding may take a bigger response.” - Erik Hunt, co-founder Hands of Hope International
“... we do not desire that God Himself should speak to us. Why are we so terrified lest God should speak to us? Because we know that if God does speak, either the thing must be done or we must tell God we will not obey Him.” - Oswald Chambers, My Upmost for His Highest