Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14
Today is my step-dad’s birthday – happy birthday Dave! Dave is a licensed counselor. He’s a really good listener. He does what we call in the clinical world “active listening.” Saying ‘uh huh’ and nodding his head and keeping eye contact while you talk. It makes it really easy to talk to him. Because you know you’re being heard. And that’s a rare thing in our culture today.
I admit I can be a terrible listener sometimes. Particularly when I have my phone in my hands (but not pressed to my ear). How ironic that the phone used to be the most common form of communication and now it’s our biggest distraction from good communication. We have lost the ability to hold conversations of any significant length due to our short attention spans. This isn’t always the case, but more often than not, am I right?
If we don’t work on listening, we will become a generation that nobody will come to for help. If we can’t sit 5 minutes without losing focus, how will we raise up the next generation to be wise? We will all be glued to screens, like in Wall-E (scary thought, no?)
This verse is most often associated with people who need to seek counsel: Don’t make decisions all on your own, ask others, ask wiser people. Ask people you trust and who you know will tell you the truth in a loving way. But, what if we lose those kind of listeners? Once Boomers age and the next generations settle into their cultural roles, who will the listeners be?
So how do we work on becoming better listeners? Well. By listening. And forcing ourselves to focus on others. Listening is a selfless act. Not listening is a selfish act. If you don’t feel you can just start listening, then ask God to help you.
We need to learn to listen again, so we can be the counsel that Proverbs tells others to seek.
p.s. Dave’s really great at telling stories too! Ask him about the one where he and his buddies put the mouse in the microwave…