The Value of Listening – Advent Calendar/Jesse Tree Reflection for Dec. 18

First, I must give a shout out to my oldest “baby”, Dude, whose ninth birthday is today!  Happy birthday, buddy!

It’s always amazing to me how the lessons we teach our children are so often lessons we need to learn ourselves.  Listening is not my strong suit, and I am looking forward to accepting my own challenge today, to “shut up and listen” for an hour.

This morning I will be having tea with a friend who is a great listener.  I always feel at the end of our meetings that I have totally commandeered the conversation, barely letting her get a word in edge wise.  She is a woman of great faith, wisdom, and peace, so I know I could learn a lot if I would just shut my mouth and encourage her to speak.  Of course, I will achieve this only through the grace of God, but with God all things – even Stephanie shutting up and listening – are possible! 🙂

Dec. 18 (Person – Zechariah, Symbol – Pencil and Tablet)

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people.  He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant…” Luke 1:68-69

Read Luke 1:5-25, 1:57-80

Zechariah’s story is a great lesson in the value listening.  At first, when the angel came to him, Zechariah was quick to speak, and his words showed a lack of trust in God’s ability to do anything.  After that, he was unable to speak for over nine months.  Instead of talking, he listened.  He listened to what others said to him, unable to make a quick response with his own opinion and thoughts.  Since Mary came to stay with them for three months, he must have listened to many, many conversations between Mary and Elizabeth.  Just imagine what he must have heard between two righteous women, one of them the Mother of God!

We can see that Zechariah did learn a lot through listening, and that he grew in his belief in God during those nine months.  When his mouth was re-opened, the first words out of it were, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel!”

How many ears do you have?  How many mouths do you have?  God, in his perfect wisdom, did this for a reason!  We are meant to listen more than we speak!  When we listen, without busily trying to decide what we are going to say in response, we have an opportunity to learn from what others are saying.  When we are quick to speak, we lose that learning opportunity.  When we listen, we learn about the people around us – their thoughts and feelings, what’s going on in their lives, what makes them happy or sad… Through this listening and learning, we are better able to understand why they do the things they do and what their needs and wants are, and we are better able to serve them as Christ wants us to serve others.

For one hour today (or tomorrow, if you’re reading this late), try to listen intently to what others have to say.  Speak only when you absolutely have to.  Then, discuss with your family what you learned through listening.

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