Blog

ideas // thoughts // notes

A Lost & Necessary Art

What's am I talking about, you ask? 

The Art of Listening. 

And I don't just mean learning techniques or tips on how to appear like we're listening. There are dozens of blog posts with those and let's be honest, most of us have already read them. 

Make eye contact. Nod. Don't tweet (but if you have to, do it discreetly). 

What I'm talking about here is the skill of actually listening. Why is it so important? So that we can have more friends or become more likable? Those things play a part but it's bigger than that. Way bigger. Our theology demands it of us.

If we truly believe that every person in existence is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), then we cannot ignore the people around us. Because they're made in the image of the one we worship and they have their own story. 

Does listening take time? When done right, it surely does. I don't know why you don't excel in this area. But I do know why I don't do well with this. 

I care more about getting done than I care about connecting to people. 

It feels terrible to write that (and even worse to read it). But it's true.  See, most of us aren't in the habit of being honest with ourselves. We make excuses and only focus on the positive. In doing so, we limit our growth. 

Or as I've heard it said before, "We judge others by their actions but ourselves by our intentions." 

I saw a tweet the other day that really struck a nerve. And no, it wasn't about the problems in Sochi (although Jon Acuff makes the Olympics enjoyable). 

Basically, the tweet said that the people that truly want to be in our lives, find a way to make that happen. 

Ouch! 

For awhile, I got into the habit of spending the majority of my time wishing for this person to call me or hoping I could connect more with that person. 

Then I decided to do something about it. 

Not everyone can be my best friend, and that's alright. I can't be everyone's best friend either. The friends I'm making now may look nothing like those I've had before. This is especially difficult to grapple with after college, but that's another post for another time. 

But there are people in and around my life that I want to pursue. And if that's really true, nothing will stop me. How can I be so sure? Well, I know this because others have pursued relationship with me and my wife, and I'm betting they're busy people too. 

Don't let your friendships become passive, or else you'll just see them at meetings and then later on, weddings and funerals. If you and I don't prioritize the people around us, we'll get swept up in busyness, which (interestingly enough) often leads to high connections to things and titles. 

Call someone. Setup lunch. Invite friends over to play a board game. 

It seems to easy, doesn't it? Well, as twentysomthings, I think that we're afraid to start small. At least I am. But the only thing worse that making a small gesture, is never doing anything at all.