Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak

Willow Creek | March 12, 2021

Senior Pastor Dave Dummitt kicked off our BLESS series this past weekend with a message called “Begin with Prayer & Listen.” Dave taught that we should pray for divine appointments with others, and when given the opportunity, we should listen to their hurts and needs with compassion and love. By loving our neighbors, Dave said, we can change the world, and it’s going to start with prayer. 


Throughout his message, Dave illustrated how we can pray for opportunities to be blessings to others. Dave shared a story of how he once prayed for a “divine opportunity” to reach someone. Over the next few weeks, Dave ended up interacting with a man who would then invite his whole family to church. We each have opportunities to be blessings to others every day. By beginning with prayer, we can make sure we’re keeping ourselves open to making the most of those opportunities. 


Being a blessing might seem like a challenge, but the next step is simply to listen. It’s ironic: We live in a world with seemingly countless ways to communicate, but what hurting people may need most is someone to just listen. We’ve all been guilty of running into a neighbor and asking, “How are you?” They’ll respond with, “I’m good,” and then we’ll both continue on with our day. When was the last time you stopped and sincerely asked how someone was doing? When was the last time you were actually ready to listen to the response?


“Genuine, authentic care is not to talk, but to listen,” Dave said. We love to speak our minds, post our opinions, and text our judgments, but what so many need is someone who will sit and listen. Throughout the Bible, we see Jesus having purposeful dialogue; He doesn’t just preach to people, but He also sits with them, hears them out, and then offers help. Life is difficult. After this past year, so many of us are carrying heavy burdens of anxiety, desperation, and sadness.  People carrying pain don’t need to be spoken down to or told to “get over it.” They need someone who will truly listen to their hearts, to be heard and understood.


It’s easy to diagnose someone from a distance and then jump in with how we think they need our help. However, Dave said, “If we’re not listening to people, we won’t know how to help; we won’t know what they need.” If we’re going to change the world one person at a time, then we need to invest in that one person. We need to take the time and sit with them. Before acting, we need to hear. 


For a lot of us, it’s easier to try and fix than it is to listen. “We’re more interested in giving our opinion than listening,” Dave said. “Fixing” might not take as much time or as much of an investment; however, if we’re truly going to show up and be the love of Jesus, then we need to slow down and be present. By being present and full of grace, we show we care. 


James 1:19b says, “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.” By listening, we’ll better understand needs so we can take action to bless that person more fully. So, this week, who needs to be heard? With whom can you sit? To whom can you be a blessing?


Many of us can start by being a blessing in our own families. It might be a son or daughter, a parent or cousin, but who is it you can invite to an in-person or virtual coffee and ask, “How are you?”and honestly mean it. If it’s not a family member, maybe it’s a friend you lost touch with or a co-worker. We all know someone who is going through a hard time, and before we reach in to help, we need to show we care deeply by hearing their story, by being present, by loving in a way the world doesn’t know how.