Have you ever been talking with someone about some trials that were pulling you down, only to have the person look away and then interrupt you to talk about a totally unrelated subject? The person tuned out!
Recently a friend told me about an experience she had at Subway. She noticed that the manager was not her cheery self, so my friend asked her if she was having a bad day. A 15 minute distressed barrage of words came out of her. There was no one in line waiting, thankfully, my friend said. My friend told the manager that she didn’t feel that she helped her, but she did tell her to take care.
But I think she did help that stressed manager. How? She helped by “lending an ear,” which probably gave this lady a huge release of stress. “We do not need to look any further than the Starbucks barista, the checkout person at Kroger or the lady making our Subway salad to shine our light and ‘lend our ear,’” my friend said.
How many of us are so busy that we don’t have the time “to lend an ear?” I have to ask myself, “Do I listen to others intently and make them feel that at that time nothing else matters but them? Or am I too busy focusing on my own world, my own stresses?”
Even while Jesus was going through His greatest trial, hanging on the cross, He took the time to show care for His mother, to pray for His enemies, to care for the men hanging on the cross beside Him. We must take the time to serve our neighbors first, before self. “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being” (1 Corinthians 10:24 1 Corinthians 10:24Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.
American King James Version×).
A favorite song of mine sung by Josh Groban is “You Raise Me Up.” Here are the lyrics: When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary/ When troubles come and my heart burdened be/ Then, I am still and wait here in the silence/ Until you come and sit awhile with me.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains/ You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas/ I am strong, when I am on your shoulders/ You raise me up... to more than I can be.
These are words that we should fulfill with one another. How can we make sure that no one goes away from us feeling empty and discouraged? Lend an ear!
1. Put your trials, activities and concerns aside and listen to your brother or sister.
2. Keep eye contact. Looking away makes it seem you are not interested in what is being said.
3. Don't allow interruptions. Concentrate on what is being said and don’t allow your mind to wander.
4. Follow up! Go back to the person and ask how he or she is doing
5. Be patient with grumpy people, and yes those who may serve you in restaurants. You do not know what they are dealing with.
For more information on how to become a great listener, here is a link of more tips. http://web.missouri.edu/~campbellr/Leadership/chapter6.htm.
Emulate God. God is the greatest listener of all. Have you ever noticed that when you get on your knees and pour your heart out to Him, there are no interruptions, and you rise up off your knees with peace? “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13 Jeremiah 29:12-13  Then shall you call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
 And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.
American King James Version×). In listening well, we reflect God's character to others and glorify God. We are also treating others the way God treats us.
God has called us to be encouragers. It takes sacrifice and putting our needs aside to do this. Are you helping people to walk on stormy seas? For a time it may require holding them on your shoulders so they can become strong, or just simply lending an ear. Take the time to show you truly care.
Maybe you can't solve other people's problems, but many times people just want to know that you care. Or maybe they just need an ear. Being in tune with people, like my friend was with the Subway manager, can really make a difference in someone else’s life.