Today I want to share with you the one thing that has changed my life and the lives of countless others, almost more than anything. I pray that you would carry this advice with you everywhere you go, for the sake of everyone you meet.
Today, I want to talk to you about listening.
One of the things your Mum regularly says of me, which I know to be true, is that I can have a meaningful connection with almost anyone.
I have the most diverse friendship circle across the world, from truck drivers, to physicians, business owners to homeless people, lawyers to people in prison, Muslims to atheists, teenagers to retirees.
It sounds funny, and almost arrogant, but within the first 5 minutes of almost any conversation I can make a meaningful connection with almost anyone.
As a result, I have found myself in Hollywood Mansions, seated with beautiful homeless people, sleeping in refugee camps, and driving with politicians, praying with millionaires and crying with widowers. The most amazing people have invited me into their lives, and given me opportunities I could have never dreamed of.
Today I had a deep conversation and connection with an African Pastor who doesn’t know his birth date, and spent his first 10 years of life living in the bush.
Tonight I ate dinner with my Muslim neighbors and talked about God from both their perspective and ours.
This is the secret to these connections- listen.
Let me unpack this for you.
First things first- let me walk you through my first few questions of a conversation, and how my brain works, and then let me tell you of my motivation and my desired outcome.
My questions and what I am thinking.
1. Hi, how are you? What’s your name? (I’m looking for a distinct accent or name that might draw a connection between their life and mine- I will keep asking questions until I get this.)
2. Do you live local? (I’m trying to see if I am familiar with their area- if I am, I will always complement it and try to tell a story of their area- once again drawing a line between their world and mine).
3. What do you do during the week? (I don’t assume the are employed or studying- if I ask, Do you work / do you study? I may insult them. Once again I’m looking for a similarity between their week and mine?)
4. Do you have family in the area? (This is often an opportunity for commonality, as we all have some form of family and associated emotions).
By this point… I have usually made a connection.
Why am I trying to draw a connection between their world and mine? Why am I listening for such a thing?
Because I want them to know that I am listening to them, and that I care. Please remember this, there is a big difference between hearing the words someone is saying, and listening to what they are actually saying, what is behind their words. I’m looking for a connection that is deeper than a superficial- “That’s cool, I have a brother too.” I am looking for their relationship with their brother and if there is tension. I am looking for where they live and if they like living there, etc. I want them to know I am taking in their words and their story.
Please note this kids: your motivation matters. If you are trying to make a connection between their world and yours so that you can become the center of the conversation, you have a heart issue. We are to show love for our neighbors by laying down our own lives for them (and our ego’s). Jesus laid down His life for His friends, He was certainly focussed on “the other”. We must love our neighbors as ourselves and put them first. Make the conversation about them.
My Desired Outcome
I make these connections so that I can communicate to them the love I have for them, and the love God has for them.
I am seeking to place value and worth on others, because they are valuable and worthy to God. I try (and sometimes fail) to see past people’s roles. I’m not talking to a gas station attendant, I’m talking to someone’s brother, father, son and a real man. I’m not getting my hair dressed by a hair dresser- but by a sister, a daughter, a person made in God’s image with dreams and desires.
Every conversation I have (when I’m at my best!), is to demonstrate to people that I love them, and that God loves them. That’s why I listen.
Listen for an opportunity to love. Listen so that you might encourage the other.
One last thing, how I wish I could type all day…
The more you listen and seek to learn, the more connections you will make. It’s a beautiful growing cycle. Your pool of knowledge will increase as you listen and learn and so too will your ability to connect. Furthermore, life experience of a variety of cultures and situations will also help this. Don’t give up if you don’t make a genuine connection with someone, determine to learn more about that person, their values and ways and you might make another connection with someone like them at a later time. Whenever I can’t connect with someone on a deep level, I set myself to learning about them. This is where study can be so helpful. This month I have been studying and praying for Muslims. I took a class on world religions and I am reading the Quran to learn more about Muslim worshipful ways of living. It’s Ramadan, and Muslims all around me are fasting. If I want to make a genuine connection with these Muslims, it helps to know what they believe.
Listen, learn, listen, learn, listen some more… and you will be amazed at the places he takes you, for His glory kids. Never stop listening and learning, and then using your new found knowledge to love people even more.
With a proud fathers heart for my kids who I trust will be lifelong listeners and learners who keep their eyes, hearts and faith fixed on Jesus while seeking to learn from others, so that you might connect with them and connect them to God,
About the series:
I’m 29 right now, but soon I’ll be 30. 30 sounds so young to some, but to me right now, it’s feels old! It’s a real milestone.
It’s sounds funny to say this but the closer I get to 30 the more I think about what legacy I’ll leave my kids.
To be completely honest, the closer I get to 30, the more I realize I won’t always be here for them, one day I’ll go to heaven and get to be with Jesus face to face, and they’ll have to walk this earth with God in their hearts, the Holy Spirit as their comforter and guide, and Jesus as their example and intercessor, but they won’t have me here. So, for the times they might wonder, what would Dad have to say about this… I’m writing them a blog a day for 30 days. They might not need it now, but if they ever do, I hope it speaks to them.