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Listening Well

Devotions

When our two children, Jaclyn and John, were preschoolers, I often had to gently turn their little faces toward me and say, “Listen to Mommy. Let me see your eyes and your listening ears.” Of course, their minds could be elsewhere, but the starting point of teaching them to listen well was to get their attention and have them focus on me, their mother, and my words of instruction.

Listening well requires turning our attention off ourselves and onto others. We all have trouble at times focusing our attention where God wants it to focus. In a world with ever-increasing distractions, listening well is key for all who desire to lead others in serving Christ. Listening involves removing the focus from ourselves, and valuing others as Jesus did (v. 3). Philippians 2:3–5 describes Jesus as a model of humility. First, we see that He listened to the will of His Father (vv. 5–7). Notice how this humble position changes both His relationship to God and to others. Listening and following Jesus’ example means we count others as more significant than ourselves (v. 3) and enables us to look out for the interests of others (v. 4). Listening well may mean silencing our phones and turning our full attention to those Christ is asking us to serve.

Verse 5 places this listening in context: “In your relationships with one another . . .” Relationship is an important word. Living in true relationship requires humble sacrifice. God sacrificed His Son Jesus for us. Can we sacrifice our own thoughts and opinions at times simply by listening well? But verse 14 takes listening a step further. We are to listen well and resist grumbling or arguing. Following Jesus, we are to exalt God and not ourselves (v. 9).

>> We all need our heavenly Father’s gentle prodding through Scripture to turn our focus on Him rather than our smart calendars, to-do lists, or even our desire to be heard. Consider how well you listen to others and how your listening well represents Christ’s love through you.

Pray with Us

How do we represent Christ to those around us? Do we walk in love, grace, and humility, preferring others to our agenda? Make these matters your prayer today.

BY Mary Martin, Former Professor of Christian School Education

Dr. Mary Martin previously served at Moody as program head of Christian School Education and chair of the Education and Counseling division. She has also served as a classroom teacher, principal, and head of school. Mary is the author of Impacting Student Learning through Christ-Centered Instructional Leadership and currently resides in North Carolina with her husband, Michael. She speaks at numerous education conferences each year and loves mentoring Moody graduates.

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