Friday, January 12, 2007

Listening

Here's a piece written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the importance of listening. This is an area of my life that God is really working on lately--being a better listener to people and to God. Enjoy!

Listen

Just as our love for God begins with listening to God's Word, the beginning of love for other Christians
is learning to listen to them. God's love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives us God's
Word, but also lends us God's ear. We do God's work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to
listen to them. So often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is always to have
to "offer" something when they are together with other people. They forget that listening can be a
greater service than speaking. Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians,
because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening. But Christians who can no
longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either; they will always be talking
even in the presence of God. The death of the spiritual life starts here, and in the end there is nothing
left but empty spiritual chatter and clerical condescension which chokes on pious words. Those who
cannot listen long and patiently will always be talking past others, and finally no longer will even
notice it. Those who think their time is too precious to spend listening will never really have time for
God and others, but only for themselves and for their own words and plans.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer -
from Life Together 98
from A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer Carla Barnhill, Ed., HarperSan Francisco, 2005

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