On Being A Good Listener.

A call to lead and love well.

row of four men sitting on mountain trail

Why are you so quiet?

You should speak up more!

Why are you so shy?

I can't tell you how many times kids wrote this in my yearbook at the end of the school year.

To be honest, I was a shy kid growing up. 

And I was quiet.

It wasn't until I was in high school that I realized I was an introvert and that it was okay.

I was living in a world that just seemed too loud with a focus on people dominating conversations and being assertive instead of being a good listener.

To state my point, when I sat down to watch the presidential debate, I remembered how much I hate watching debates. 

The hour or so that I watched seemed like a bloody MMA match. 

Both candidates were talking over and interrupting each other so much that I could barely understand what was said.

Chris Wallace, who was moderating the debate, had to act more like a referee that was ready to pull his hair out at any second.

According to Reuters, new rules may be added to promote an "orderly discussion."

Hopefully, that will include pauses between statements so we as Americans can assess each candidate.

I suppose the case that I'm making for listening is also a case for silence and observation.

A lot of people came into my life that others (including myself at times) considered misfits. Especially in middle school and high school. 

And all they wanted from me was someone to listen to them. I heard everything from the weird to the downright disturbing or concerning. 

And sometimes, I was sad that that might be all I could do for them. 

But all these encounters forced me to choose my words carefully. And to be aware of what might be going on beneath the surface.

The funny thing is that being quiet and listening to the people and situations around you can not only help you be a good leader but in showing love as well.

Easier said than done, I know.

David Mathis in his article, "6 lessons on good listening" puts it this way:

"Good listening goes hand in hand with the mind-set of Christ 

 It flows from a humble heart that counts others more significant than ourselves."

Neil Petch, in his article "Making the case for silent leadership" puts it in a similar light:

Silent leaders are compassionate, understanding, open and approachable and –most importantly– they command their team through earned respect rather than force of character.

This may require us to gently plumb the depths of people or circumstances. To be perceptive and observant.

This doesn't mean walking up to someone and demanding to know what's going on and then interrogating people. No, this takes patience, practice, and prayer.

It means asking open-ended questions to get to the heart of the matter. 

I will tell you from personal experience, be prepared for whatever happens next! 

Let's try to be men and women of understanding as in Proverbs 20:5, seeking to draw out the purpose in each other.

Let's show the character of God to each other by being slow to anger and abounding in compassion and mercy! 

These are hard, crazy, and chaotic times. We need to look out for one another!

That's one way we can lead people into freedom.

Have a great weekend and a great week y'all!

-Jordan Blackwood

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