Did you know that as you age your ears keep growing? Yep, one day we’ll all enjoy some big beautiful ears. But it is important that our listening skills grow with our ears. Recent events might tempt all of us to talk more than we listen. Don’t! Now is the time to have big ears. Having big ears affords us the opportunity to be part of students discovering the grace and unconditional love of God as they search for Jesus in the midst of Supreme Court decisions, church shootings, and controversies.
Recently, I was at a training session for an organization I’ve become involved with called HOPE HOUSE OF COLORADO. Hope House is bringing hope to teenage moms through their residential program and mentoring program. They have big ears. The session leader explained that the human brain works 400 times PLUS faster than we are able to listen. The danger here is that you will not listen to what someone is saying to you. You will be busy formulating what you are going to reply to them.
In our training session we were given some really great reminders on listening. As we allow for discussion in youth ministry, and take time to hear what God is laying on the hearts of teens, these listening reminders lay down some great ground rules.
LISTENING GUIDE FOR YOUTH MINISTRY –
- LISTEN to what the person is saying-not to what you think they are saying.
- Don’t be thinking about your reply until you hear the other person out.
- Express your opinions but be sure you don’t dominate or intimidate others.
- Ask questions. Encourage others to expand on their opinions or ideas.
- Show empathy by listening for and responding to underlying feelings so that people understand they and their opinions are valued.
- Do “listening checks.” Summarize or paraphrase as a way of clarifying. Restating others ideas in your own words is a way to check your understanding of their statement as well as communicating to them that you are listening. (c Pathways…for organizational, professional and personal development, 1995)
This is an important time for us to listen. It is an important time for our students to feel like they have a safe place to speak.
Here is the question Hope House left us with at the end of our training session:
When others listen to you, don’t you feel important, valued, and loved?
I have a question for all of us to ask ourselves.
How big are my ears?
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