Given our consumer mindset, we can tailor our lives to cater to our interests so all our input is from people we agree with and all our output is toward those who will nod their heads in favor. There’s no need to be patient if everyone is like me, thinks like me, votes like me, reads the same books as me, etc. But Christian community, especially the local church, is perhaps more than being like-minded but gospel-minded.
Listening is one of those things we take for granted and think we do well. But it’s more than taking in speech through our ears. The point may not even be fixing a problem that is being presented. It’s actually a setting aside of one’s self and taking the time to be there for another person.1
When I realized I needed to see a counselor several years ago, I assumed that she would tell me what to do, but she didn’t. She gave me a safe and neutral space to unburden things I have never told another soul. She really didn’t give much advice at all, but the blessing of having someone who actually listened to me and didn’t offer platitudes or advice off the cuff enabled me to see my way more clearly than before.
Having a listening ear was important when working through my issues, but I think it is a basic human need.