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Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women

Archive for December, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

THE LOST ART OF LISTENING AND RESPONDING AS IT RELATES TO DISCIPLESHIP (4 of 4)

Review:  Discipleship and the art of listening go hand in hand.  We listen with empathy and restraint.  In last weeks Facts we made the point that we respond with gentleness.  We also respond with:

2) Wisdom:

 Proverbs 15:28 reminds us that the heart of the righteous weighs (Literally: groans, ponders, muses) its answers Lets determine to respond to a persons heart with wise, measured truth, spoken in love.  (See Ecc. 5:2; 1 Cor. 16:14)

 Imagine the rarity of a person who actually speaks in a knowledgeable fashion: Lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel (Pro. 20:15a).  Lets choose to be that person!

 As Gods priests (I Pet. 2:9) lets take seriously this mandate:  The lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction–because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty  (Mal. 2:7).

3) Building up:

    NourishmentThe lips of the righteous nourish many (Pro. 10:21a).

  Healing: The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit (Pro. 15:4).

  Growth: Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ (Eph. 4:15b).

Through prayer, timing, and the leading of the Spirit, our approach may include one or more of the following:

   Encouraging (entreating) and building (strengthen) each other up (1 Thess. 5:11).

  Teaching and admonishingTeach and admonish (caution, gently reprove, warn) one another with all wisdom (Col 3:16a).

  Reproving (convince of error, refute, confute) (Col. 3:16)

  Rebuking (strongly admonish with urgency and authority) (Col. 3:16)

  Exhorting (to invite, beseech, entreat) (2 Tim. 4:2).

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

THE LOST ART OF LISTENING AND RESPONDING AS IT RELATES TO DISCIPLESHIP (3 of 4)

Review: Discipleship and the art of listening go hand in hand.  In our two previous Facts we have made the points that listening involves empathy and restraint. Once we have listened with empathy and restraint, we respond with gentleness, wisdom, and building up:

1)  Gentleness is not only a fruit of Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23), but a characteristic  of  both the Father and the Son. Imagine God stooping down to make me great (2 Sam. 22:36). The Hebrew word here for stooping down can be translated gentleness.  (See Prov. 18:35; Isa. 57:15)  Paul speaks of the meekness and gentleness of Christ (2 Cor. 10:1), while Christ spoke of himself as being gentle and humble in heart (Matt. 11:29).

Gentleness is a powerful means of influencing those whom we seek to disciple:

 It turns away anger: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Prov. 15:1).

 It is a powerful persuasive tool: Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone (Prov. 25:15).

 It is the way wise people generate a teachable attitude in others:  The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools (Ecc. 9:17).

 It is the way God intends for us to restore a fallen brother: Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted (Gal. 6:1).

 It represented the tone of Pauls discipling and teaching ministry:We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little childrenAnd the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth  (1 Thess. 2:7b; 2 Tim. 2:24, 25).

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

THE LOST ART OF LISTENING AND RESPONDING AS IT RELATES TO DISCIPLESHIP (2 of 4)

Review: In last weeks Facts we made the point that Discipleship and the art of listening go hand in hand. In the discipling process it is difficult to significantly influence people you do not understand, and you cannot understand those whom you do not truly listen to.  In this series of Facts I will  continue to present two principles of listening (Empathy and Restraint), and three principles of responding to what you have heard as a result of listening (Gentleness, Wisdom, and Building up).  Listening has two components:  Empathy and Restraint. Lets continue our discussion of empathy:

1)  Empathy:  Empathetic listening has to do with seeking first to understand and then to be understood (as Steven Covey reminds us in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 1). Covey elaborates: Seek first to understand involves a very deep shift in paradigm.  We typically seek first to be understood.  Most people do not listen with the intent to be understood; they listen with the intent to reply. Theyre either speaking or preparing to speak.  Theyre filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other peoples lives. 1 Thus we would do well to cultivate the eloquence of sympathetic silence.

2) Restraint:  Often our first reaction in conversation is to speak before we have truly heard the other person out. Perhaps thats why Solomon reminds us that a fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions (Pro. 18:2). Which makes me wonder if we are aware of the destructive potential of the tongue:

  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell (Jms.. 3:6).

  The tongue has the power of life and death (Pro. 18:21a).

   Reckless words pierce like a sword. Conversely, the tongue of the wise brings healing (Pro. 12:18a).

Thus it behooves us to keep in mind that unrestrained speech is a practice that can lead into sin (Proverbs 10:19), our ruin (Pro. 13:3), and gives evidence of our gross lack of good judgment (Pro. 11:12). He who answers before listening– that is his folly and his shameEven a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue (Pro. 18:13; 17:28).

Soin our interaction with others, lets keep in mind the fact that a man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered (Pro. 17:27).

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

 1 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven R. Covey, Free Press Simon & Schuster, 1989, p. 239

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

THE LOST ART OF LISTENING AND RESPONDING AS IT RELATES TO DISCIPLESHIP (1 of 4)

Discipleship and the art of listening go hand in hand.  In the discipling process it is difficult to significantly influence people you do not understand, and you cannot understand those whom you have not truly listened to.  Face it, we love to hear ourselves talk. I suspect that for many of us, our big egos have little ears 1.  Little wonder then that the Scripture instruct us to be quick to listen, [and] slow to speak.When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise (Jms. 1:19; Pro. 10:19).

Because Jesus was all knowing (omniscient), he could immediately get to the heart of a person and meet his need. (See Jn. 2:25) But for us mortals with limited knowledge of others, practicing the art of truly listening is a must if we are to gain understanding and insight into their lives. An empathetic and restrained listener is better able to pull from the depths of another his deepest fears, longings, and hurts The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out (Pro. 20:5).

In this series of Facts I will present two principles of listening (Empathy and Restraint), and three principles of responding to what you have heard as a result of listening (Gentleness, Wisdom, and Building up):

Listening:

1)  Empathy is the highest level of listening. It is entering into anothers world with understanding and compassion. In truth, most of us respond to others speech by either ignoring what they are saying, pretending to listen, or selectively listening to what we want to hear in preparation for answering in the way we want to be heard.

Galatians 6:2 reminds us to empathetically carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. The word carry conveys the idea of supporting and shouldering the burden of another. We see a beautiful example of empathy at the death site of Lazarus: Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brotherWhen Jesus saw [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled…Where have you laid him? he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept!" (Jn. 11:19, 33-35) (See Job 2:11;  2 Cor. 11:29; Phil. 2:26)

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

1  Robert Schuller