Sep 1, 2022 filed under Prudence, Trust.

Two women talking in the livingroom

I received my certificate as a Spiritual Director last May. A lot of the training focused on how to listen. During 18 months of training, I gathered so many great ideas that I want to share some of the golden nuggets with you!

Jesus usually listened without judging, interrupting, or pushing. Yes, he was tough on those who resisted God’s truth, but very gentle when someone was seeking it with an open heart. Like Jesus, we can gently accompany people toward God in our everyday relationships.

Sometimes we find ourselves talking to a friend whose mother has just died. Or a co-worker who is considering retiring. Or a nephew who wants to drop out of college or get a divorce. We know we’re not qualified to make it okay for them or do what a therapist would do, but still want to console them in their pain and give them a word of hope.

When God puts you in a conversation where you don’t really know what to say, here are 5 ways to listen like Jesus!

Listen with one ear on the Holy Spirit and one ear on the seeker
Many of us are so used to hearing someone’s problem with an eye to “fixing it,” we can forget that it’s really God who guides them to the solution, not us. Listening to the still, small voice of God in what the person is saying helps us to walk with them as they discover the answer that God is trying to whisper in their ear.

Ask open-ended questions
Instead of responding with statements, consider starting questions with, “I wonder if….” or “Where is God in all of this?” That helps us to park our ego at the door and wait on the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation as the other person seeks the truthful solution to his problem.

Keep the goal in mind
It’s easier to be present if we remember that the goal of any spiritual seeking is to be closer to the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The solving of a problem grows out of that union with God. If we keep first things first, that is, their relationship with God, the more we and the other person will be relaxed and receptive to God’s way of comforting or guiding them through us.

Be the image of God to them
As you walk with them through their difficulty, picture yourself as representing God in your acceptance and gentle attitude. As the old song goes, “Only love can break a heart; only love can mend it again.” The love we have for God that grows from our own prayer life will provide a way of showing a gentle heart and being a listening ear for the precious soul that God is guiding, through us, right now.

Be present
Being present doesn’t mean we don’t respond or don’t say anything. It means keeping in mind that God is in charge of this conversation and is guiding the other person in his own way and his time. Even if we’re sure we know the answer to the problem, it is for us to be present as the other person discovers it himself with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Love always,

P.S. Our own prayer life is the foundation of being able to help others. Schedule a quick chat with me to see if and how I might be able to support you in having a closer connection with God, resulting in less worry and stress and way more peace:

11 Responses to “How to Listen Like Jesus”

  1. Esther Davis

    This is great advice for myself at this time. A friend of mine, who did a great favor for me a long time ago, has confided in me for some help and advice for his problem of dealing with after effects of alcohol and drugs. I guess God sent him to me because He knows I know a lot about alcoholics. My husband was one, now deceased 3 years. So, I do have some understanding of what he is going through. His actions are not normal, waving his arms and head and voice in so many directions that i think he’s going to knock down the lamp by the side of the chair. The last time he was here, my two sons were here also, so he was rather quiet at that time. Anyway, it was amazing how i responded then, but i know it was not me responding, but the Holy Spirit, we had a conversation that left him with some wondering thoughts for his future. He will be back, so your advice just given here, is of great help to me. Thank you, Rose. God bless you.

  2. Joan Manworren

    What do I say when someone says they don’t believe in God? Usually I just answer by saying I’m sorry because God could help him. Joan

  3. Doris Lacock

    Would love to chat with you. My hearing limits me to texting. Thank you for doing what you 💓 do!

  4. Elizabeth Doucette

    This is very good advice for me, especially/primarily when listening to my husband, our nine kids and our son-in-law. And then also family, my own friends and our kids’ friends. So many people truly just need to be lovingly listened to. Listening has never been natural for me. I’m a talker and a doer. I’m getting better over the years but I still have to be very conscious of talking less and listening better and more attentively/lovingly/sincerely. Thank you for this clear-cut advice!

  5. Rhonda O'Donnell

    Thank you for the tips. Being the image of God to them is a great reminder. Love this.

  6. Tom Roberts

    And don’t be in a hurry. In the book HOW DOCTORS THINK, author Jerome Groopman, MD establishes that by listening and unhurriedly asking open-ended questions the physician guides the patient to his/her diagnosis. The key is “unhurried,” an element in short supply.

  7. Erin

    How timely – this melds beautifully with a book I just started reading this moring: “When to Speak Up and When to Shut Up”. If I count on the Holy Spirit for guidance, I’m more likely to get the timing right.

  8. Debbie Graham

    Hi Rose,

    Great tips for sure.
    I was just saying to my daughter, for both of us, when we are in a conversation with a family member or friend, to ask them if they want us to just listen or do they want us to respond and what an awesome idea to call on the Holy Spirit. I have been calling on the Holy Spirit now for a couple months now and so much peace and guidance.
    I look forward to our conversation soon.
    Thank you Rose,
    Peace in Christ