I have learned the hard way that the best way to become an effective communicator is to become an effective and sincere listener. In ministry and life, I tend to want to hear someone out before telling my story or giving advice. We have all been around that person who seems to care less about what you have to say and is determined to tell his story or give his wisdom. I am learning that there are three things that will make me a more effective leader, parent, husband, and friend.
First, learn to listen to someone who is in need or in pain and be willing to simply empathize or sympathize with them. The bible says we should “weep with those who weep”(Romans 12:15), and, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”(Galatians 6:2). So I need to learn to listen and do my best to “feel” what my friend is feeling. I don’t necessarily need to give them life-changing counsel.
Second, I need to learn to share in the excitement, joy, or pain, of a person’s story. I need to become a listener in their story. Everyone has a “story”. Have you ever known someone for a period of time, feeling like you knew him or her pretty well, only to learn that there was a lot more to the person than you realize. I have often been guilty of knowing someone for years before I really learned that this person had a story to tell. So many people carry pain and baggage, but a listening and sincere ear is often the best way to minister to that person. My goal as a believer should be to move beyond acquaintance and toward genuine relationship.
Lastly, I am often guilty of failing to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15). When someone is happy or excited because of something they have experienced or learned, I should share in the excitement. I don’t need to be a know-it-all. I need to be eager to learn through what others are experiencing.
These are principals that have been very helpful for me in being a better brother in Christ, but I still have so much to learn. I hope they will help you too.