Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Dear Colleagues,


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#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” (Prov. 18:13).
  • …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 desires” (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

1“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”– Stephen R. Covey – Free Press, Pgs 235 – 260 –

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