The new Detroit Lion’s football coach (you get 10 extra credit points if you know his name) said something often said about doctors and pastors, but he was talking about football coaches. He said, “You’ve gotta be able to listen to other people’s opinions and you gotta take it for what it is. And you know what? You may not agree with it and it may not be the right answer, but you take it in anyway and you listen to it.” (Detroit News, March 3, 2021). He’s right. To be a good coach, doctor, pastor or follower of Jesus in any way, we’ve got to be a good listener.
Listening is a skill not everyone has acquired. I’ve heard it said, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. We need to listen twice as much as we talk.” That’s probably not the reason our anatomy’s configuration, but we do need to listen more. It’s hearing the other’s story; putting ourselves in their shoes; and imagining life as they have experienced it. When we do that, our perspective may change. Like the coach said, in the end we still might not agree, but as we listen to the stories of others, we non-verbally communicate that we care. People may not need our opinion, but they do need for us to hear them.
God is a good listener. Over and over again in Scripture, we are told that God hears us and hears our prayers. God hears all prayers– even the dumb or lazy or contrary prayers. Still God listens. Listening is a part of loving. When Jesus was standing in the cemetery as Lazarus laid dead in the grave, he began his prayer this way: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.”(John 11:41). We should be continually grateful that God hears us when we pray. Moreover, in our desire to be more like Jesus, in light of this reminder of a God who hears, we must hear and see the needs around us too. God listens. We should listen too.
The 2020s may go down in history as the decade of noise. Everyone is talking. Few are listening. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone knows what’s best in just about any given situation (no expertise required). And most everyone loves to share their “expertise” and opinions. The volume rises (both in noise level and social media posts), as people perceive that they are not being heard. Let’s not add to the overwhelming volume of chatter. Instead let’s listen to those with whom we agree and disagree and go first (not to social media) but to the One who hears all our prayers. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. Psalm 34:17
By the way, listen up (pun intended)! The Detroit Lions Head Football coach is Dan Campbell.