Attentiveness (Proverbs 12:15; Mark 4:21-25; 16:24; Hebrews 2:1; James 1:19-25) will recognize the value of other people by giving them listening ears, respect, courtesy, and total concentration. This means paying attention to others, not just listening to our own needs and desires, and also giving genuine contemplation to God's Word and His call to respond to others.
Neglect, Gossip, Strife, and being Mean are opposite terms. They refer to people who have malicious intentions, who love to hear about the discontent and struggles of others, then, repeat it as gossip when they are called to help. The result is a church atmosphere of distrust, and people who are hurt. This malice leads to destruction of property and persons, just as a fire would destroy a home, or even a church. God calls us to be our best. And, when we refuse to grow, and we keep making the same mistakes over, and over again, we hurt Christ, His people, and ourselves (Proverbs 17:27-28; 26:20).
From birth to death, we have the need for someone to listen to us. One of the main problems facing youth today is, no one cares for or listens to them; this is a major point of why events like school shootings happen. Each of us has a deep need to be heard and cared for, whether we admit it or not. It can be a casual conversation or a deep therapy session, if you feel that person is not listening, you feel they do not care. Being heard is a lot like being loved, so, we must take this matter seriously, and grow in this skill.
The early Christian community, as it was facing persecution, knew that to be a support and leader, it must listen in order to progress in spiritual growth. The Christian and, especially, the leadership, must always be willing to listen. As a follower of the Lord, we have to listen to his Word, and we must also listen to the people in our care before we can be effective. How we listen shows where our interests are, and our health. Are we mirroring Christ's character and grace, or just our personal needs? And, the fruit that flows from listening is the growth and spiritual maturity that leads to godly action.
To be an effectual Christian who reaches out to others, you must know how, and be willing, to listen. This will create the attentiveness we all need. You can look upon it as a form of support structure. The foundation is the Lord, Who equips us to meet the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of one another.
Without the support system of attentiveness to one another by listening and caring, a church will fall limp and surely fail, even if they have good doctrine and teaching.
Listening is not a spiritual gift that some people have and some people do not have. Listening is something we all can do, even if one is deaf. Listening is a natural ability, and a skill that can be improved by simply turning it on and letting it work. We can also learn techniques to improve our abilities.
Relationships are built on listening, both to God's Word and to each other. The relationship between a husband and wife is as good as their ability to listen. The leader in the church is as good as his/her ability to listen. The words that we hear are not as important as the care and effort put into them; the effect of listening is that the words are not all of the meaning of the message. The primary focus in communication is the hearer and receiver of the communication in relationship to each other, which means that the care is usually more important than the words, especially for the Christian. The words are the wrapper and the listening is the chocolate.
- How do I exhibit Attentiveness to others in my daily life?
- What can I do to develop an attitude of, and a willingness to be Attentive?
- What blocks my being Attentive to others?
- How can I make Attentiveness function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainty, stress, and, most importantly, time constraints?
- How would you define Attentiveness?
- Do you strive to be Attentive to others as a reflection of who you are in Christ, and what He did for you?
- How does gossip counteract Attentiveness? Why is Attentiveness something that does not happen as much as it should?
- What happens to our relationship with God, and with others, when we become pursuers of only our needs and time, rather than being Attentive?
- When have you most been Attentive to others?
- In what situation did you fail to be Attentive when you should have been?
- What issue is in your life that would improve by your being more Attentive?
- Think through the steps you need to take to put Attentiveness into action in a specific instance. Such as, how can you improve your listening skills? How can you make yourself available to others so your needs and desires do not supersede all of the time?
· Here are negative examples from Scripture (Num. 22:15-35; Prov. 29:12; Isa. 7:10-15; Matt. 13:10-17; 16:21-25; John 6:58-61)
Through all of God's creation, we are the prize piece, and the means to model His ways.
© 2002, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org