TEN CHARACTERISTICS OF A DISCIPLE MAKER
(Part #10 of 10)
#10 He is a skilled, disciplined and empathetic listener:
A common pattern in discipling is to run people through established
curriculum, get them started in Scripture memory and a daily time alone
with God. Before long they help them to systematically study the Bible
and share their faith. The assumption is that these disciplines and the
strength derived from them will facilitate their spiritual growth.
Well enough. But we need to keep in mind that we are not assembling
cars on a conveyor belt, but dealing with wonderfully complex human
beings with needs as varied as the all outdoors. We cannot begin to
understand and help them at their deepest level of need without clear
leading and insight from the Holy Spirit, and without skilled,
disciplined, and empathetic listening. Note from the Scriptures:
He who answers before listening-- that is his folly and his shame”
…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become
angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God
(Jms. 1:19b, 20).
“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Prov. 17:28).
The following three paragraphs encapsulate some of Steven Covey’s
thoughts on the art and discipline of effective listening, gleaned from
his bestseller, “ The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” 1
We have a tendency to rush in and want to fix things for people.
Thus, we err by not taking the time to really hear what is at the heart
of their problem. It is imperative that we seek first to understand and
then to be understood. People are slow to divulge their inner issues
unless they feel we understand and care for them. This is a
prerequisite to their divulging their secrets with us.
Empathetic listening is listening to understand and get inside
another person’s frame of reference so that you see the world through
their lens. The key to good judgment is understanding. By judging
first, a person will never fully understand.
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand but to
reply. They are either speaking or preparing to speak. They are
filtering everything through their own paradigm, reading their
autobiography into other people’s lives.
In a nutshell , skilled, disciplined and empathetic
listeners Relax. Restrain their talking. Demonstrate their desire to
listen with empathy. Ask questions. Analyze what
the person is saying (and not saying). Pay attention to their body language. Remain objective. Put themselves in the other person’s shoes. Acknowledge the person’s feelings . Help them discover what they need to do.
This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.
R. Dwight Hill
7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”- Stephen R. Covey – Free Press, Pgs 235 – 260 -