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More on listening

Sorry, I'm posting so much at once, but with classes beginning again, it's been crazy.

The Ears of God

For Christians, pastoral care differs essentially from preaching in that here the task of listening is joined
to the task of speaking the Word. There is also a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes
already to know what the other person has to say. This impatient, inattentive listening really despises
the other Christian and finally is only waiting to get a chance to speak and thus to get rid of the other.
This sort of listening is no fulfillment of our task. And it is certain that here, too, in our attitude toward
other Christians we simply see reflected our own relationship to God. It should be no surprise that we
are no longer able to perform the greatest service of listening that God has entrusted to us - hearing the
confession of another Christian - if we refuse to lend our ear to another person on lesser subjects. The
pagan world today knows something about persons who often can be helped only by having someone
who will seriously listen to them. On this insight it has built its own secular form of pastoral care,
which has become popular with many people, including Christians. But Christians have forgotten that
the ministry of listening has been entrusted to them by the one who is indeed the great listener and in
whose work they are to participate. We should listen with the ears of God, so that we can speak the
Word of God.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer -
from Life Together 99
from A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer Carla Barnhill, Ed., HarperSan Francisco, 2005

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