Would it be great to have a friend you could say just about anything to? Do you have such a friend? More importantly, are you that kind of friend?
In Chapter 5 of God Space: Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally by Doug Pollock, the author introduces the idea of Spirit-led listening. What would happen if you invited the Holy Spirit to guide you as you talk with (and listen to) others? How would you listen to others if the Holy Spirit asked you to? How would those conversations change? What would be different?
“Perhaps the greatest value of Spirit-led listening is that it communicates true humility and sends this powerful message: ‘I accept and respect you.’” Doug Pollock, God Space
How Well Do You Listen?
There is a questionnaire on page 57 made up of 16 questions like:
I find myself finishing their sentences.
I lose track of what is being said.
I listen briefly and then begin talking.
I tend to contradict what has been said.
After each question, you’re asked to select from 4 options: rarely, occasionally, often, and usually. At the end of the test, the author says, if you answer often or usually 3 or more times, or if you answer occasionally (or more) 8 or more times, “you could benefit dramatically by improving your listening skills.” I would add, that for me, I seldom allow the Holy Spirit to lead my listening. I answered rarely 5 or fewer times.
The remainder of the chapter includes 9 principles designed to help us follow the Holy Spirit in our listening to others. One principle in particular is that we can’t wait until we feel comfortable. Principle 2 is “Significant spiritual conversations usually occur when you least feel like having them.” Most of the errors we can make from being led by our flesh fall in this category. When we let the Spirit lead us, we probably won’t be comfortable. We will want to interrupt, fix and challenge the people we speak with. But our humility and our acceptance of others is what makes Jesus visible. If we do what everyone else does, our “faith” is no different from any other. Only when the Holy Spirit guides us can we take part in his work, and join him according to his timetable.
“Think about it: When was the last time you were listened to in a non-judgmental, agenda-free, compassionate way?” Doug Pollock, God Space
Spirit-led listening is “a sensitive but assertive quest to truly understand someone else.” We can listen in a non-judgmental, agenda-free and compassionate way. And when we do, it will be rare.
Check out God Space. We used it as a teaching tool as we prepared for the first Marketplace Mission Trip in October 2018. And we will continue to recommend it to anyone who wants to join God in their workplace.