Monday, August 02, 2010


Last night we [Mary and I] spoke at Emmanuel Baptist Enid after I had preached that morning. We spent about an hour sharing what we've learned after fifty-one years of marriage to each other. It was conversational, casual, comical in some ways, and absolutely a blast in every way. But it was the aftermath that captured my attention.

Mary and I both had several people stay around talking to us for nearly another hour but Mary particularly had some who were REALLY ministered to as she LISTENED. I know she spoke to some degree because she told me about it later. But her gift is listening well. It ministers and, in fact, it is healing. Her gift of listening is spoken about in a post I put up over four years ago which bears repeating today in a slightly adapted fashion. So I will do so. Enjoy.

"Some one ask me recently what I thought had been the major factors in any growth I may have experienced over the past few years in my walk with the Lord. Whether there has been growth or not would be for others to say, especially my family, but if there has been, it would be in the thoughts in the post I'm printing today on listening.

I don't compartmentalize life, so any growth in marriage, raising kids, developing friends, or walking with the Lord is spiritual growth to me. While this may not be what the asker of the question on growth had in mind, I would say it has been profound in changing the direction of my life, marriage, family, and my ministry.

It is obvious to anyone who knows me well I'm one who has, in the past, constantly been giving advice, fixing people, correcting their feelings...well, you can see where growth was needed. My desire is that the journey I'm on in learning this will continue because the road is long. What follows helps that journey along.


"When I ask you to listen to me - and you start giving me advice, - you've gone beyond what is requested. You are not listening.

When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way, you're trampling on my feelings and not listening.

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed - strange as that may seem - AND you're not listening.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen.- Don't talk or do for me - just listen to me.

I can do for myself; I am not helpless. - Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless. Besides it helps when you listen.

When you try to do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you are contributing to my fear and inadequacy. But worse, you're not listening.

When you receive as a simple fact that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can stop trying to convince you and get about this business of understanding what's behind this irrational feeling of mine.

And when that's clear, the answers often become obvious and I don't need advice. - Irrational feelings can make sense when I understand what's behind them.

Perhaps that's why prayer is so effective, sometimes, for me, because God often becomes mute, and He doesn't give advice or try to fix things.

God many times just seems to listen and often lets me work it out for myself.

So please listen, and just hear me. - And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn and I will listen to you. "

Good words that really do describe Mary's gift and I believe would be wise for any teacher/counselor to learn.

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


That is so good, and necessary that I can't say more!! Excellent!

Strider said...

A very excellent post. A couple of years ago the national team I was training was asked to give a presentation to a large gathering on the secret of their success in ministering in villages. I had tears in my eyes as one of the team stood up in the middle of the presentation and said, "The secret of everything we do is to LISTEN!"
He continued on to say that people want to go out and share the truth and teach but they will not be heard until they listen and bless people by letting them know they have been heard. The fact that HE had listened meant as much to me as anything else I have done in ministry here.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J, and Strider,

Thanks for coming by.

I'm constantly amazed at what I see every time my wife is able to go with me in a ministry opportunity [Which isn't often now beause of work.] as people open up to her listening skills and heart. I'm still learning from watching.

Cammie Novara said...

"It was conversational, casual, comical in some ways, and absolutely a blast in every way." I can really relate to that quote in every imaginable way.

Rex Ray said...


I believe this is the most practical advice that can be given to an individual or to organizations from churches to political conventions.

People want to be heard. I believe in churches the worst attitude that can exist in a congregation is:

‘THEY are going to do what THEY want to do without listening to us.’

I believe too often when people are ‘elected’/chosen for a certain task, that makes them appointed by God which makes them act as if they were God.

I’m not saying God doesn’t listen to people; I’m saying He does not listen to decide what is right or wrong. He is God.

An email dated April 7, 1997, was given to our missionaries asking them to have: “A confidence and willingness to follow the wisdom and guidance of God-appointed leadership whether we necessarily understand or agree.”

I believe church committees can have the same attitude that once they are chosen by the church, they no longer care what the church wants but do what they want.

In other words, they do not listen.

Nicolas Gold said...

This all reminds me of the story of Job. His 3 friends arrive, see him in misery, and stay with him for a long while bringing comfort but no lecture. Sitting there with Job was what Job needed. But when Job made a few theologically unwelcome comments, his friends felt the need to step up and defend the justice of God. Even if they disagreed with Job they should have kept quiet and MINISTERED or just LISTENED.