The Forgotten Ministry of Listening

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them…Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either;…Secular education today [circa 1938!] is aware that often a person can be helped merely by having someone who will listen to him seriously,…Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Life Together”)

11 thoughts on “The Forgotten Ministry of Listening

  1. Dr. J

    Another great post, Bryan

    Your comments brought to mind this poem which expresses the same sentiments:

    The Art of Listening

    God has something to say to you,
    God has something to say.
    Listen, Listen, Pay close attention. God has something to say.
    Children’s Song

    The Lord GOD has given Me
    The tongue of the learned,
    That I should know how to speak
    A word in season to him who is weary.
    He awakens Me morning by morning,
    He awakens My ear
    To hear as the learned.

    The Lord GOD has opened My ear;
    And I was not rebellious,
    Nor did I turn away.

    Isaiah 50:4-5

    Listen, listen, my son: hear with the inner ear.
    Tune your ears to hear in the center of your heart.
    I will whisper cherished secrets as you come near.
    To listen intently and obey is an art,
    Practiced and perfected day by day.
    As you hide my Word in the center of your heart,
    I perform and bring to pass each word that I say.
    In my unfolding Kingdom, you too have a part,
    For to walk in love is the more excellent way.
    Partake of my promises and consume my Word.
    As precious as life-giving water, hold it dear
    And do my will, proving all things that you have heard.
    Listen intently and obey: Perfect this art.
    Listen, listen, my son: hear with the inner ear.

    Lonnell E. Johnson

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  2. Matthew

    Thank you for your great post Brian!
    I am reminded of something my teacher, at my bible college ones told me.
    God created us with 2 ears and one mouth for a reason ;-)
    God bless you
    - Matthew

    Reply
  3. meetingintheclouds

    There is no doubt of the power of a listening ear to quench fears and grief in a fellow being.

    I often see sad-looking ladies sitting on a bench in the shopping centre, and stop to give them a smile and a cheery word – and a listening ear. Usually, when about to leave, they thank me for my advice, even though I haven’t given any . . . but now it is time to offer them a Gideon New Testament with “helps” in the front and the way of salvation in the back. No one has ever refused, but have thanked me, especially for the ‘helps’ in the front which direct to verses to read in times of anxiety, fear etc.

    Reply

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