My professor asked everyone on the first day of class if we had any questions for him. He had given his first day of school speech, directed us to where we could find the syllabus, and told us to read it for ourselves. Then, he told us a couple of interesting stories about ballroom dancing classes and mixing his own music recordings. Unexpected from an accounting professor, right? But very cool, and I was thinking, this might be a decent not so boring class after all. But, then he stopped talking and asked us if we had questions for him. The room fell silent. He waited. Nothing. “So, no questions. I’ve told you everything you want to know already,” he said. Then the silence was awkward. “Nobody cares to know if I’m even qualified to teach this class?” We all laughed and it seemed to break the ice. There were some comments and finally some questions started rolling in. This struck me as interesting, though. The teacher asked us questions, as well as allowing us to ask him what we wanted to know. He made sure we were listening and then allowed us to listen to things we felt were relevant instead of filling us full of information that was useless or that we cared little to hear.
Luke 2:46 “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.”
Jesus certainly knew how to ask questions. The gospel of Mark records 67 conversations Jesus had in which he asked 50 questions. Jesus asked questions and then he carefully listened to the answers people gave. He talked with fishermen about fishing. He talked with tax collectors about financial matters. Why? Jesus understood the powerful truth that people listen to people who listen.
Jesus had a way of listening that reached down into the very souls of people. He knew how to prime the pumps of their hearts. He knew that what was inside would come pouring out. That same principle is still true.
Sometimes the best encouragement we can offer someone in pain is a listening heart Listening doesn’t require that we fix anything or even that we arrive at a solution. Listening simply sends the message, “I’m here for you. I want to understand your pain. I’m willing to share your pain.”
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about – unless you are willing to listen. When we listen to people, we validate them. We invite them into our lives and give them the most precious gift we posses – time. Loving your neighbor is not something you feel. It is something you do.It’s the act of sacrificing your own needs and desires for the sake of someone else.
It is time for us to put away our sermons, save our advice, and simply listen to the people God has placed in our lives. Talking is sharing, but listening is caring. It’s time to learn how to ask questions. It’s time for us to listen up.