Monday, June 18, 2012

A personal reflection on Father's Day and the art of really listening ... with a Chuck Swindoll story and a quote from Max Lucado.

SCRIPTURE: Proverbs 23:22 (NIV)
Listen to your father, who gave you life.

Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it. "I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day," he recalled in his book, Stress Fractures. "Before long, things around our home started reflecting the patter of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.
"I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, 'Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin' and I'll tell you really fast.'
"Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, 'Honey, you can tell me -- and you don't have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly." "I'll never forget her answer: 'Then listen slowly.'" 

Listening is a lost art. It takes time and energy. We all have to admit that we are either too busy or too caught up in our own agendas … or both … to really listen. Sometimes we are not good listeners because those who were shaping us did not model the art of listening well for us. And, even if we are good listeners, we probably need to work on our skill of listening.

We’ve just celebrated Father’s Day. My father modeled a lot of behavior for me. He illustrated with his life what it means to work hard – he was a laborer, strong as an ox and often was doing the work of two men. He provided food and shelter for his family – the basics. He showed loyalty to his lodge buddies and to the men’s group at church. He was committed to the Masons and they rewarded him with a 33rd degree. He taught me many things, but listening wasn’t one of them because listening wasn’t taught to him.

I’m thankful that both of our daughter’s are good listeners. They must have gotten it from their mother because it is obvious that they didn’t get it from me … or at least I don’t think they did.

Listening means to slow down, shift gears from our self to the other person, turn on our ears (I’ve got our granddaughter twisting her ears to turn hers on) and then take the time to hear the other individual.

Hearing too is a lost skill because what you hear, what you thought you heard, what you actually heard, what the other person said, what they thought they said and what they actually said are all different. Hearing and sorting through the six different levels of hearing takes time and a lot of time and energy.  
So on this day after Father’s Day I wish all a Good Listening Day!

In all the words that come to our ears today may your words, O Lord, stand out instead of being drowned out. And, help us to listen to the important people around us.

QUOTE from Max Lucado, God Came Near, page 64:
My father taught me how to shave and how to pray. He helped me memorize verses for Sunday school and taught me that wrong should be punished and that rightness has its own reward. He modeled the importance of getting up early and staying out of debt. His life expressed the elusive balance between ambition and self-acceptance.

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