January 29, 2023 - Pastor Message03/27/2023
THE YEAR OF MISSION
THE MISSION TO LISTEN (cont.)
“Fools take no delight in understanding, but only in displaying what they think…Before disaster the heart is haughty, but before honor is humility. Whoever answers before listening, theirs is folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:2, 12-13).
We have been reflecting together over the past few weeks on the importance of listening if we would hear and answer Christ’s call to serve our share of his life-giving mission. Last week we reflected on listening to God’s voice in prayer, especially at Mass, and the need for silence. This week we will look at truly listening to others through active listening.
Our mission at St. Boniface is to sow and nurture the seeds of God’s saving love in the hearts and minds of all our neighbors and beyond. Good farmers need to understand the soil to effectively sow and nurture seeds in it to produce a bountiful harvest. Just so, we need to truly understand the hearts and minds of those whom God is calling us to serve if we would produce a bountiful harvest of passionate disciples. Understanding the hearts and minds of others requires genuinely listening to them, to let the other persons into our hearts and minds, to acknowledge, recognize, value, and even love them, not necessarily for what they are saying, with which we may completely disagree, but for who they are, beloved fellow children of God. This is called active listening, the goal of which is not so much persuasion as relation and to build a bridge between us over which we can engage in fruitful dialogue.
There are many different approaches to active listening, so please feel free to find one that works best for you. I offer the following as an example of active listening from a Christian perspective, borrowed from the article “6 Active Listening Tips” at the website stplc.org:
- Be present - Give our whole attention to the person speaking the whole time he or she is speaking, not thinking of other things or what we’re going to say and not interrupting.
- Be curious - Have the humility to recognize that we don’t know everything. Get to know the other person and their perspective better by asking meaningful follow-up questions that show we’re really listening.
- Be nonjudgmental - Active listening does not mean agreeing with everything someone else says, but it does mean respecting the person in front of us and giving them the freedom to say what they feel they need to say in a non-threatening environment.
- Be empathic - Human beings are an inseparable unity of mind, body, and spirit. Our wordsreflect not only our mind but also our feelings. Tune into and respect the feelings behind the person’s words and nonverbal cues.
- Be patient - Genuine conversation takes time, especially when the goal is not simply acquiring information but forming relationships. Don’t rush it.
- Be understanding - Try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and seeing things from their point of view. Repeat back to the person what you heard them say to make sure it is correct and ask meaningful follow-up questions to deepen your understanding.
Fr. Marc Stockton