The Art of Deep Listening: A Guide for Christian Connection

In these challenging times, amidst the crescendo of differing opinions and beliefs, there’s a skill we seem to have collectively set aside: genuine listening. This goes beyond merely hearing words. It’s about connecting deeply, bridging divides, and acknowledging that every story has its own merit.

True listening is an art. Much like a beautiful painting or a stirring musical piece, it takes time, patience, and genuine effort. But the masterpiece it can create—a bond of empathy, understanding, and love—is worth the time.

The teachings of Jesus prompt us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and what better way to express this love than by truly hearing them? It’s in this spirit that I want to share the essence of deep listening from a coaching perspective.

Three Layers of True Listening:

  1. Self-focused Listening: At this primary level, we concentrate on our reactions and feelings, often sidelining the speaker’s perspective.
  2. Empathetic Listening: Here, we shift our focus onto the speaker. We notice their emotions, facial expressions, tone, and even the unsaid. It prompts us to consider: What if we set aside our biases to genuinely hear them out?
  3. Intuitive Listening: This is the zenith of listening. It combines the attentive nature of the second level with a deep intuition. We “dance in the moment” with the speaker, connecting with their emotions, challenges, and joys.

So, how can we cultivate this art and benefit our relationships and the world around us?

Three Tips to Master the Art of Listening:

  1. Acknowledge Your Biases: All of us have our views and concerns. But it’s crucial to be aware of them without letting them overshadow our conversation. Embrace the wisdom from James 1:19, urging everyone to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
  2. Accept Life’s Complexities: It’s easy to label things in black and white. Yet, life often operates in shades of gray. For example, the struggle between safety during a pandemic and economic concerns isn’t binary. It’s a delicate balance of genuine, valid concerns.
  3. Choose Your Battles: Not every conversation requires a counter-argument. Gauge the moment. If your input would enhance the dialogue, share. If not, perhaps it’s better saved for another day.

In the footsteps of our Savior, let’s strive to be ambassadors of love and understanding. Listening deeply might not always bring agreement, but it will surely sow seeds of compassion, empathy, and, most importantly, love. As followers of Christ, let’s strive to make deep listening our second nature, adding a touch more hope and unity to our world.