North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

Even while his wife spoke, Tim formed his next words. “That doesn’t make any sense,” he said, throwing up his hands in frustration.
“Well, if you’d stop interrupting,” Sarah began.
“I’ll stop interrupting when you start to make sense!”
Does this scenario sound familiar? Listening can be your pathway to wisdom and understanding. But in our restlessness and impatience we think we have to give certain people a piece of our minds.
Never in the history of the world has there ever been as much multi-tasking mania as there is today. Personal electronic and tech devices have us speaking on the phone, checking emails, and attending meetings, while chatting with co-workers all at the same time! Not to mention checking the net for the latest sports scores. In doing this, we confuse busyness with productivity. We become part of a juggling act that hinders our minds from being able to focus on managing our priorities.
Focused perception is needed in our highly distracted culture. Can the mind focus well on two things at once? Consider pilots doing anything other than flying the plane, or a conductor surfing the internet, or a driver texting in 5 o’clock traffic in a busy city. Foolish calamity and accidents occur when we divide our attention.
The “art of listening to what people say” is becoming lost in our selfishness to make sure our own voice is heard. When doing some research I came across this anonymous passage about listening: “When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, you haven’t done what I asked. When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you’re trampling on my feelings. When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems, you have failed me, strange as that may seem. Perhaps that’s why prayer works for some people. Because God lets you talk and He doesn’t offer advice or try to fix things unless you let Him. He listens. So please, just listen and hear me. And if you want to talk, wait a few minutes for your turn and I promise I’ll listen to you.”
Active listening means devoting your attention to what someone is saying. It requires you to listen with an open mind uncluttered by inner dialogue. Concentrate on understanding what the other person is saying, not on phrasing your response. Repeat what the other person said and infer his or her feelings.
Listening can improve your ability to hear because you are focused on the other person, not on what you’re thinking. In some cases, it can also influence how the other person responds. The other person doesn’t feel like he or she is just going through the motions and may appreciate being heard and understood.
Proverbs 17:27 says, “The intelligent person restrains their words, and one who keeps a cool head is a person of understanding.” As you practice listening you will come to know more quickly what’s important to the other person. You will begin to listen not merely to the words people say, but also to the meaning and emotional content behind them.
To communicate effectively you must develop the ability to take into consideration the other person’s perspective. This can apply to conflict resolution between spouses. While striving for peace, we tend to juggle our insistence on being heard with our commitment to listen. Often our listening is suppressed due to annoyance or anger. We interrupt to be heard and then plug our ears because we’re mad! This is not good for harmony in relationships. It only hurts it. James 1:19-20 reminds us, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
The bottom line is that listening is critical to conflict resolution and requires our full attention. You can do it by the single-task of listening. Restrain your words and keep your cool. In the long-run you’ll have more peace and less regrets.
• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s the author of the “Living With Purpose” book series, and “TBH The Truth Will Set You Free”. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Dec 7 2014. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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