What exactly makes a good listener?
You might say it is someone who is compassionate, patient, and humble. Or maybe it has more to do with wisdom, life experience, and one’s ability to relate. Yet, perhaps the quality that makes the best kind of listener is the one who pays attention to how they hear.
Not my words. This phrase belongs to Jesus.
We find in Luke 8:18 (NLT) Jesus sharing the Parable of the Lamp as he says, “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.”
Evidently, listening is important to Jesus. In fact, not listening has dire consequences—the removal of any understanding. But how you listen, or hear, is important to Jesus as well.
First, take note of what Jesus does not say. He does not say pay attention to what you hear. He takes it beyond the what and into the realm of how you hear—from the physical into the spiritual. According to Jesus, how you hear has the potential to lead to further understanding and revelation.
So let us take inventory of how we hear. Beyond the physics and anatomy of hearing, we first process words and sounds with our brains. Our minds become the filter through which everything verbal, and even nonverbal communication, must pass.
Then, in a matter of milliseconds, our minds associate words, sounds, and nonverbal expressions with specific thoughts, memories, feelings, reactions, and responses. Lastly, this association is filtered back through the mind and elicits a new, or often times a default, response or reaction.
All this to say, the mind is crucial in how we hear. The mind is the filter that can weed out lies, false thinking, and fear-based reactions and only allow truth, discerning thoughts, and love-based responses to pass through.
This is why having the mind of Christ will change your life. Having the mind of Christ means having the Holy Spirit as your forever filter. Jesus, through the Spirit, will change how you hear and, subsequently, how you respond to those He loves.
The battlefield of the mind significantly influences how you hear. How you hear an inquisitive child. How you hear a fear-crippled aging parent. How you hear an attention-seeking spouse. How you hear a grief-stricken friend. How you hear an anger-laden customer. How you hear a sin-sick stranger.
It is helpful being a good listener when you are naturally compassionate, patient, wise, and can relate. However, paying attention to how you hear requires dependency on the supernatural ability of the Holy Spirit to filter everything and align it with the mind of Christ.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV
We can trust the filter of the Holy Spirit to take captive that which is not of God.
Like the Parable of the Light teaches, “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.” (Luke 8:17 NLT)
The light of Christ can poke holes in the darkness of our minds and reveal to us the the spiritual significance of what and how we hear.
Pray for the mind of Christ. Pray for the Holy Spirit to filter through the physical aspects of communication in order to reveal to you the spiritual significance of how you hear and, subsequently, how you interact with those He loves.
Remember, that which He commands He also makes possible through the power of His Spirit who lives inside of you. Let Jesus transcend your physical interactions into spiritual experiences by first paying attention to how you hear.