Listening To Others

February 3, 2017
by Peter Hitchcock

The Samaritans are a national organization in the United Kingdom, whose 20,000 volunteers listen. Every six seconds, day or night, someone contacts them. They help callers talk through their concerns, worries, and troubles.

Many years ago, my late wife and I had the privilege of training new volunteers at our then local branch. Now, the Lord has led me to use that experience to facilitate a course on listening skills at my church. In preparation, I visited the Samaritans' website, and found the acronym S.H.U.S.H. being used in a campaign to encourage the public to become better listeners. The Samaritans are, deliberately, a non-religious organization so that they are available for everybody, but I will add some Bible verses.

Show that you care. Give undivided attention. Remove any distractions. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves." (Philippians 2:3 NIV 2011)

Have patience. It may take time before a person is ready to open up. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV 2011)

Use open questions, those that need more than a yes/no answer. Focus on feelings rather than facts. Don't jump in with your own ideas. Use silence. "Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues." (Proverbs 10:19 NIV 2011)

Say it back to check that you have understood, but don't interrupt to offer a solution. "To answer before listening — that is folly and shame." (Proverbs 18:13 NIV 2011)

Have courage. Don't be put off by a negative response, and don't feel that you have to fill a silence. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:6 NIV 2011)

We will need help from the Lord to put this into practice. Pray for discernment about the decision to really listen to the person rather than to have a two-way conversation, and for guidance to remember that this person is the expert on their own life and that the questions that we ask should guide them towards finding their own solutions.

A 19th century writer said it well:

    Oh, the comfort — the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person — having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take them and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. – Dinah Craik (1826-1887)

Prayer: O Lord, we thank You for Your greatest gift of love. Help us to take Your love and pass it to our neighbours by listening — really listening — to their troubles. Guide us as we listen, so that all that we do is an expression of Your love and so that Your will may be done. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

About the author:

Peter Hitchcock <peterhitchcock@eastlink.ca>

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada


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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Great piece of encouragement Peter.


    Peter, thank you for sharing this devotional with us. Blessings.


    Most wonderful Peter! Thanks with Blessings,
    (Ont)


    Thanks for a helpful and encouraging word today Peter.
    Blessings.


    Dear Peter – thank you for this most instructive devotional. God Bless you and keep writing.


    Beautiful devotional; a marvellous depiction of REALLY listening, something which we rarely do.


    Peter,
    Thanks for the eloquent reminder.
    Blessings.


    Dear Peter Hitchcock,
    Thank you for a good-advice devotional with scripture.
    Keep writing.


    Good devotional Peter. The same goes for Hospice volunteers and, in fact, any organization such as the military, for example, that deals with a multitude of beliefs — but most of all — LIFE in general.


    Thank you, Peter for this interesting devotional. We do need to be encouraged to really “listen.”
    We hope you will write again.


    Hello Peter,
    Thank you for today’s devotional. I worked as a palliative care nurse and witnessed the power of listening countless times. SHUSH and the scripture additions will be helpful to many!


    Peter, this was a brilliant devotional. Thank you for writing it. I really appreciated the bible verses you chose for each of the letters in SHUSH. That meant a lot to me, and will stay with me.
    Blessings.


    Many thanks for your helpful suggestions regards listening. It is so important to be reminded of these skills as we seek to share with others. Often relationships falter when we forget to really listen! I especially liked the quote from Dinah Craik and the SHUSH mnemonic. Thanks again.


    Hi Peter:
    I really enjoyed your devotional today. I am saving it for future reference as a training aid for our church prayer team.
    Blessings to you.


    Dear Peter:
    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful information. I am definitely going to go to the Samaritans website and check it out. As my Mom use to say “Silence is Golden”. “. May God continue to bless you and the work you are doing for Him.


    Good afternoon, Peter,
    Thank you so much for your devotional today, one that took a lot of thought and prayer to put together. What a great organization and I sure all around me, a great need for it. It’s so easy to make errors in spending a lot of time giving our own opinions, and that just doesn’t work. Your Scripture references are so good and true and will make note of them.
    God bless you real good as you minister.
    (Ca.)


    Peter, thank you for sharing this devotional with us. Blessings.


    Thank You and Good Morning,
    Loved your devotion this morning. Great reminder for us all.
    So I need to share this story with you pertaining to listening.
    When we were getting married many years ago I told everyone what a great conversationalist my husband to be was!! Well it was probably only a month or so into our marriage that I discovered that he was not a conversationalist at all!! All the time I was doing all the talking, he was doing all the listening and he would say that has never changed!!
    Loved your devotion and love all you Maritimers as well. There is something about folks from the east that I do love.
    Thanks again!!
    (Ontario)

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