Listening to Others
by Mark Votava
Listening has been a foreign concept to me for most of my life. My culture, family and religious tradition have all taught me that talking is more important than listening. I have been taught that you must assert yourself through words or you might just be invisible to others. Awhile back I began to question all of this because it didn’t seem like it was leading me to a place of reconciliation and beauty.
• Learning how to listen
I remember when our Downtown Neighborhood Fellowship first moved into the neighborhood to become a local expression of the body of Christ. We had to learn how to listen to each other and those in the neighborhood. If we didn’t love, we could not get along very well. We had to grow in our love for others through a new paradigm of listening.
• The witness of listening to others
Our way of witnessing was to listen. We started to build trust with one another and with others in the neighborhood who were skeptical about us through listening. Now after years of listening, we have come to be better friends with our neighbors in the parish.
• The miracle of listening
All kinds of things have developed out of us expressing our love for others just by listening. We would have been driven out by the locals if we didn’t learn how to listen and respect them. Listening can drastically change the body of Christ as we share the particulars of everyday life in the parish.
• The difficult task of listening
There is so much talking today within the body of Christ. There is an overemphasis on preaching and converting others through words and information. When will we ever learn how to listen instead of preaching so much? Listening is much harder than talking all the time.
• The experiment of listening together
What would happen if we had an experimental approach to listening in the particulars of everyday life together in the parish? I think we would see amazing things happen. Love is intertwined with listening.
• Listening as an expression of relational love
Without listening, does love even exist within us? The communal imagination has a desire for listening. Listening is the foundation of all relational love in the parish.
What are some of the ways you have experimented with listening to others in the place that you live?