Tony tells the story of a time when he was teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. He had just finished a lecture on theories of sociologist Emil Durkheim. After the lecture, Tony was followed to his office by a student who sat down and asked a rather trivial question about the lecture. Because Tony was tired and busy catching up on some details, he only half listened. He said he didn't listen as Jesus would have, or else he would have realized that the student had not come to talk about Durkheim. Tony answered the question in an offhand manner and then said, "Is that all?" THe student left Tony's office. He went back to the high-rise building where he lived, went to the roof, and jumped to his death. Tony realized too late that the student's visit was not to talk about sociology, but sociology was all Tony heard.
(From: Connecting Like Jesus: Practices for Healing, Teaching, and Preaching by Tony Campolo & Mary Albert Darling)
I have and hate to admit, I'm not as good of a listener as I should be. Sometimes it makes me feel awkward to hear others stories because I feel unable to help them for two reasons:
1. I fail to realise that listening IS part of helping them, not just physical action.
2. I don't always realise that the Spirit could be working here, and I should be trying to listen to person speaking and where there spirit might be leading.
This second point is interesting, since we come to realise that only Jesus can really help a person it's foolish to think we can do it in our own strength! After all, I couldn't help myself, he had to do it for me.
I guess the point is that when we become Christians we tend to think we all of a sudden have all the answers, we don't, but we can be a channel to someone who does, but will we be humble enough to let him?
I like the story Tony tells because it shows us, somewhat gruesomely what the consequences of not allowing ourselves to simply being a listener can be, but not just listening to the words, but listening to what their soul is saying.
So I ask you, are we really listening? What can we do today to listen better?