The Gift of Listening
By Renee Swope

“I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray.” Psalm 17:6 (NLT)

I was recently reading a book in bed when I heard my husband calling our dog to come get her treat. He was actually luring Chelsea, our thirteen-year-old daschund, to her doggie bed.
Daisy, our beagle, was already outside doing her business, anticipating the reward of a doggy biscuit if she obediently came back inside and went to her bed. However, Chelsea was sound asleep in her chair; and nothing was going to get her to budge. Not even the promise of a bedtime treat.

I wondered if Chelsea had perfected her “selective hearing” skills, knowing it was time for bed, or if she's going deaf. I had a feeling it was the latter.

Once the dogs were tucked in bed, we laughed about how Chelsea used to hear every little thing. If the wind blew a leaf outside our front door, she barked.

Andrew my 10-year old came to my bedside to kiss me goodnight. With a concerned look in his eyes he said, “Mom, I hope when you get old you don’t go deaf like Chelsea.”

I laughingly told him that when I’m as old as Chelsea, it might be good if I can’t hear everything. She gets a lot more sleep than she used to, and I love to sleep. She also doesn’t hear when we laugh at her, and it might be good if I don’t hear jokes them laughing at me either.

My light-hearted response didn’t wipe the concern off his brow, so I asked why he was afraid I won’t be able to hear him."Well, sometimes you don’t hear me now. Like when you're on the computer and I ask you a question, sometimes you don’t hear me.” He answered without hesitation.Ouch! I was not expecting that answer. I almost plunged into a "bad mommy" moment. My child thinks I can't hear him. I thought. I felt really bad because although I may be deeply distracted, I know that I hear him but I don’t always listen.Instead of defining that moment with guilt, I pulled Andrew close to me and told him I was sorry for not listening sometimes.

I didn’t want him to fear that old age might make it worse. So, I explained how me being on the computer is similar to when he’s watching a good movie or playing video games. I reminded him how he gets so involved that’s it almost like he’s in another world and sometimes doesn't hear other noises, like me calling him for dinner. He nodded with a smile.

Then I made a promise I want to keep. “Andrew,” I said, "I am going to try really hard to stop what I am doing when you come to me, look away from my computer and really listen to what you’re saying. You're more important than anything I do on the computer. What you have to say matters to me!”

Today’s verse reflects our longing for God to hear us. It reminds me that in the same way I go to God because I want Him to listen and answer me; my child and others come to me because they want me to listen to them.

That night God showed me a valuable gift I can give to my children, my husband, friends, co-workers and even strangers. I can give the gift of listening by simply stopping what I’m doing, and giving my full attention to them when I hear them speak to me.

Lord, thank You for listening to me. Please help me be a better listener. It’s easy to hear with one ear while the other is turned toward my computer, the television or my cell phone. I want to give the gift of listening this year. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Living and Leaving a Legacy, 2 part DVD Conference Message by Renee Swope

Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child, Character Chart & Message on CD by Renee Swope

Renee’s Blog

Love the One’s You’re With, a free devotional by Renee Swope

Application Steps:
Make a list of those you want to give the gift of listening to. Tell them your want to be more like Jesus by devoting your full attention to them when they’re talking. Ask them to help you.

Here are some ideas I am implementing:
  • Turn off my cell phone in the evenings
  • Limit email to one hour each morning and evening at home
  • Delay answering the phone during dinner and family time
  • Turn away from my desk at work when someone comes to talk with me
  • I’ve asked my kids to come to my side and jokingly say, “Chelsea? Chelsea?” after a few failed attempts to get my attention. This is a fun way for us to keep it light while helping me realize when I’m not listening.

When I talk to God, do I realize that He’s listening with His full attention?

When someone is talking to me, do I stop what I’m doing and turn my full attention to them? How can I be a better listener?

Power Verses:
Psalm 54:2, “Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth." (NIV)

Psalm 66:16, “Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.” (NIV)

Luke 2:46, “After three days they found him [Jesus] in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (NIV)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was deeply convicted by this devotion. I'm so grateful that God is always listening to me. I know how easy it is to get distracted and not her that tiny voice saying, "Mom"

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am ver guilty of this, working from home can get the best of you.
It is time to turn and stop to listen to what they have to say.
Sometimes we think that email or work just cannot wait, however our child's self esteem cannot wait either.
How many times, I think to myself, has it been said, just a sec and I will be right there. My 9 year old is starting to pick up on this and just says forget it. My prayer is for me to not be so caught up in what I am doing and STOP to listen as God would do for me, this was a blessing to me today.
Thank you for the reminder that God is always listening and he never fails. I will pray today that we will all become better listener's
Blessings, Rachel

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I am so thankful that Jesus is not only listening to me, but He is "hearing" and pleading my case to the Father! I often picture myself as one of millions of little needy humans crying out for help on a daily basis...and I am amazed that Jesus hears and cares! When my three children cry to me at the same time I often just want to run and hide!
Thank you Lord for loving each and everyone of us - - all at the same time!! You trully are an amazing God! =]

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This devotion is so true! I often don't realize or think about distractions around me when someone needs me to listen to them. I can't imagine how hurt my feelings would be. I pray that they Lord will help me reflect on how others feel when this happens to them.

Blogger Joyful said...

Ok...I really won't be posting a daily comment to everything you write, but the Lord is using you so much right now in this season of my life to teach me and also to reaffirm lessons He has already tried to ingrain in me, but I guess I haven't been listening. Again, you have brought to mind an illustration that happened a short time ago - a story I entitled, "Listen with your face". It's too long to post in this comment, but if at some point you'd like to read it I will post it in my blog later today.
Praying for you - praying that you're fixing your eyes on Jesus and giving Him your undivided attention. Thanks for the blessing you are to so many.

Blogger tierney y pope said...

I just wanted you all to know that you all are the Lord's sent. Everything that I am, and have been going through is on this site. I have just started reading your devotion for about 2 weeks now, and already I have been delivered from, jealousy, pride, judging, and having a quick temper. What makes you all so authentic is the fact that you are honest and you're not afraid to say that you have dealt with these issues. I have been saved for almost 7 years at the end of this month and I am falling in Love with the Lord all over again. he is allowing me to get to know him through you all's teachings, and testimonies. Continue to allow God to use you as he is doing. I pray nothing but blessings, and more blessings for you and your family, and everyone who is around you, and will be around you. You inspire me to find and seek the Lord even the more. To confess my sins, and allow him to heal, deliver and see me free! I love you all so much.

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