Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19, NLT).
Friend to Friend
We are continuing to learn about how to listen – specifically, about how to be quick to listen. I have learned three practices that help me be quick to listen, and help me to listen to others like Jesus listens to me:
- Listen for pain.
- Listen for need.
- Listen for dreams.
Nothing encourages someone like listening to and encouraging their dreams. Dan Southerland could encourage dirt! Seriously! I once told him, “Honestly, I think you could find something good in Satan. He thought for a minute and then said, “Well, he is consistent.”
Years ago, I learned a great definition of the word “encourage.” To “encourage” means to “put courage in someone.” That definition of “encourage” is literally found in the history books.
From the time our son Jered could hold a ball, he had a dream to play college football. Every day for eighteen years we encouraged that dream.
He aced the flag football experience he had in first and second grade – and then announced that he was bored and would wait until he could play tackle football. His first tackle football experience came in the fifth grade – in an optimist club league where you played on a team by weight class. He was a 95-pound fifth grader playing against 95 pound seventh and eighth graders, who had him big time in coordination and physical development. He did not see the field much and it was not an encouraging experience for him.
But he kept dreaming. And when he went out for football as a freshman in high school, weighing 195, he owned it. He played both offense and defense. The last three years in high school saw him get to 235 with dozens of colleges looking at him.
He paid for his college on a football and academic scholarship at a Division 1 school. He fulfilled his dream. His role was to work as hard as he possibly could – and he did. Our role was to keep encouraging him – and we did.
Nothing builds relationship currency like listening to someone’s dreams. When we listen to the hopes and dreams of those around us, it releases God’s power in their lives to go for it. And that often gives those dreams a jumpstart.
Choose to make listening to the thoughts and ideas of others more important than sharing your own thoughts and ideas.
- We do that by listening to their pain.
- We do that by listening to their needs.
- We do that by listening to their dreams.
Andy Stanley – one of my favorite pastors and teachers – says it this way: “I care about you more than I care about my view.” Do people feel that way about how you love and listen?
My husband Dan majors in helping people see their dreams come to pass. For years, he has signed his texts and e-mails “I love you.” In recent years he has amended the way he signs off to “I love you – and I believe in you.”
Everyone in your life is looking for someone who will listen to their dreams. Everyone in your life is looking for someone to believe in them. Maybe that someone is you.
Father, You believe in me. You have dreams and hopes for me. You give me those dreams and hopes. I want to learn to listen to and encourage the dreams and hopes of others. Help me learn to listen for dreams.
In the Name of Jesus, who believes in me, I make this prayer.
Now It’s Your Turn
Ready to have some fun? Start listening for and encouraging the dreams of those around you. The word will get out that you will dream with people – and God will use you in a fresh and exciting way to help others become all they can be in Christ.
More from the Girlfriends
I think most people shudder at the thought of confrontation. But listening is a major part of confrontation in any healthy relationship. Need help? Check out Mary’s book, Sandpaper People for practical ways you can learn to listen to those difficult people in your life and confront them the right way.
Need prayer? Our prayer team is committed to praying for you. Email your requests to our prayer team director, Ginger Meador, at firstname.lastname@example.org