My wife and I go for a walk almost every day. We walk almost every morning and every evening in our neighborhood. We walk on the grass, the sidewalk, and along the road. And while we walk, we talk. We talk about all kinds of things, big stuff and little stuff. We also take this time to solve problems that come up. I love jumping into the conversation and solving problems. But sometimes my wife asks me to just listen. She’ll say to me, “Babe, I’m not asking you to fix anything, just listen.” And I do. And by listening, I can help her
Like me, have you ever found yourself unable to help someone because you didn’t listen well enough? In this teaching, let’s explore the art of listening well to help others, and learn a few practical keys that can make us better listeners. And let’s also learn from someone who was a great example of a good listener.
Why do we want to listen well? Being good listener can make a big difference in our ability to help someone. People who listen well stay focused, ask good questions, they try to understand, and respond with a heart and mind to help.
Be Quick to Hear
James 1:19 says, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.” We are to be quick and speedy to hear. We have two ears and one mouth, so listening may be twice as important as talking. Listening is a great way to show love to someone and demonstrate that their life is important to you. And after we listen and understand more, we can then speak the truth in love. We want to demonstrate our love and compassion for others.
I John 3:17 says, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” What are the bowels of compassion? That means the tender affections, kindness, benevolence, and compassion. We listen to others with compassionate kindness. With the love of God that dwells in us, we help others to meet their needs in this world with the spiritual truths we learn from God’s Word.
So, first, we’re quick to listen, then, second, we gain understanding in order to help.
Proverbs 18:13 says, “She that answereth a matter before she heareth it, it is folly and shame unto the her.” So, don’t respond to someone without first hearing what they have to say. Listening to gain understanding to help others is important. Remember, we are quick to hear, and we are slow to speak.
No Formula, But Practical Keys
There’s not a perfect technique or formula for being a good listener. It’s more about an attitude of heart. We listen with a heart to help people, knowing that we have a spirit within us and the spiritual truths we have learned to apply to help others. We can listen to help.
There are some practical keys that can make us better listeners: Be quick to hear. Slow to speak. Be engaged. Be aware of your response (verbal and non-verbal) to what you hear. Avoid judging and being critical. Seek to understand. And ask questions.
We can become genuinely interested in people and get engaged in their lives when we listen with love and respect. We gain their trust and come to know what kind of help they need. And we have the love of God to give to help them.
One aspect of engaging with someone is to first handle distractions. You may need to move to a quieter place, turn off the music, put down your phone, and look directly at the person whose speaking to you. I have to remind myself to remove my hands from my keyboard, so that I can listen better to someone whose talking to me while I’m typing. And when someone is talking, believe to understand. Believe to understand them. When we focus on listening and believing to understand, we show that we value what people have to say.
Another key to listening well is for us to be aware of how we respond to what we hear. Our response can greatly determine what is shared. If someone thinks that we’re giving a negative response, they may struggle to continue to speak openly. A positive response could be a simple nod, smile, saying, “I hear you,” eye contact, and leaning closer.
Proverbs 20:5 says, “Counsel in the heart of a woman is like deep water, but a woman of understanding will draw it out.”
Refrain from Judgement
While listening we refrain from judgement or criticism, and we listen openly, which is another important key to listening well. We can avoid judging others according to our own emotions, our own experiences, or preconceived ideas. When we listen to others while being careful not to be critical of their thoughts or feelings, we make them feel at ease. Remember, we are seeking to gain an understanding so that we can help people with a spiritually-based, good response.
Asking questions is another practical key to listening well that helps people to open up and talk. For example, let’s say someone says to you, “Boy, I’m tired.” What you can ask is something like, “What kind of tired are you?” This one question may open up the person to a more in-depth conversation.
In Acts 8:30, there’s a story about Philip. Philip applied this principle of asking questions as a key to listening well. One day, Philip was walking along and saw a man off to the side reading. Philip could have just passed him by. But instead he asked, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” And that one question lead to a life-changing conversation between the two men that you can read about in Acts, Chapter 8.
Another example of a good listener can be found in a story of Jesus Christ. He was listening to help in Luke 24, beginning in verse 13. In this story, two of Jesus’ followers were walking along the road to Emmaus, just after witnessing some shocking, life-changing events. As they were walking, they were trying to adjust to the new state of affairs. The person that they were following, Jesus, was killed. They witnessed that. But now they hear people reporting seeing angels, others saying that Jesus was alive again, and others saying that Jesus’s tomb was empty. Well, Jesus caught up to them and began walking with them along the road, but the two men didn’t recognize Jesus. Luke 24, verse 17, shows that Jesus listened to the two men carefully, gained an understanding of why they were sad, and asked them a question.
Jesus asked, “What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?”
He asked the question, although he knew the answer. The answer was that he himself was the subject of their discussion. He could have illuminated their thinking immediately, but Jesus encouraged them to talk about what had happened, what they experienced, and what they heard. He listened to them. Then he responded.
Luke 24, verse 25 and 27 reads, “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, Jesus expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” He taught them everything.
Jesus didn’t reveal who he was to them. But because he listened well, he was able to answer their questions, and teach them the Word, the spiritual truths, that they needed in order to be encouraged, and to have no fear, but to rejoice in what had happened. Jesus worked with these two men, listening and talking, because they were confused and not yet convinced of the truths concerning Jesus Christ. Later the men talked about their time walking and talking with Jesus, saying, “Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” The really enjoyed the conversation.
Like Jesus Christ, we too can listen to people when they need help in their believing. Being a good listener can make a big difference in our ability to help someone. We can ask good questions. Stay focused on what we hear, just like Jesus did on the road to Emmaus.
I Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and respect.”
Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
When we listen to someone, it doesn’t matter who it is, we want to help. Then we can give to them the spiritual truths that we know with love and care. We want to listen well to help.
Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Listening can make a big difference in our ability to help someone. So, let’s be ready to listen well.
If you enjoyed reading that article, you may want to check out "Common Ground" and learn about two great men who had the same mindset.
I John 3:17
I Peter 3:15
One of the best things in life is to be thankful. It’s simple to remain thankful when we keep in mind what God has done for us. Take a moment right now to think about some of the things you’re thankful for.
My advice is to learn that when we have an attitude of thankfulness, that puts us in a frame of mind to believe the best, and we then can see how we can be successful and triumphant in every situation. By being thankful, we can help and serve others so that they can be victorious as well.
You Have Been Invited
Colossians 3:15 says, "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful." That spiritual truth means that we can let peace (that inner calm) be the controlling factor in your hearts and minds, which can help us decide and settle questions and concerns that may arise in our thoughts. To this spiritual peace, you have been invited as a believer. You have been invited to believe in and experience this spiritual peace in life. And be thankful for it.
There's So Much to Be Thankful For
We have so much to be thankful for. The house we live in. The food we eat. The clothes we wear. The school that we go to. The work that we do. And each other. I’m thankful for the family that I have. And all of our needs be being met. In Philippians 4:19, there’s a promise that all of our needs will be supplied.
Choose to Be Thankful
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says that in every situation, we can choose to be thankful and to give thanks. Why? Why is thankfulness so important in our lives? When we are thankful, we are continually aware of the good things God has done for us and given us and invited us to experience. By being thankful, we practice the continual presence of God in our lives.
Colossians 1:12 says, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet (made us sufficient) to be partakers (to share fully) of the inheritance of the saints (believers) in light. We give thanks that we can partake, live, and share fully everything this world has to offer.
2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.” What’s that verse mean? When we give thanks to God, it causes us to be successful, victorious, prevail, achieve, and be triumphant in spirit. And through us and our success in life, that knowledge of God (what we know about God) is like a savor (a sweet fragrance) that is spread out and made evident (manifested) everywhere.
We’re thankful that God always, always, not sometimes, not only on Sundays, not once a month, but always, always causes us to triumph. Even if we face a negative situation, we can find something to be thankful for while claiming a promise of God with believing. An attitude of thankfulness puts us in a frame of mind to believe, and we can see that victory come to pass.
Remember (with thankfulness) what has been done for us. Remember what has been given to us. Remember (with thankfulness) who you are, where you are, and what you’re doing. Remembering (with thankfulness) will help us continue to stand on the spiritual truths that we know.
In the past, I was alone, broke, with no direction or hope. Then, I met an amazing, outstanding woman, and I became a new person, literally born-again. When we’re born again, we are made near to God. Ephesians 2:13 says “But now in Christ Jesus, you who sometimes were far off are made near.” When we’re aware of truths like this, it’s simple to be full of thanks. Our logical response now to everything in my life is to be thankful. And to take a stand for God, and give and live in service.
Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of being thankful and serving others. And do not be conformed to this world any longer with its superficial values and customs, but be transformed and progressively changed as you mature spiritually by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove for yourselves what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect in His plan and purpose for you.
Being thankful helps us serve (to do things for others) with a renewed mind and spiritual attitude: when we pray for someone else who has a need, when we reach out and help someone, when we give someone our time and watch a movie together, when we teach someone something new, when we help someone with something their struggling with, when we prepare a meal for someone, when we take care of someone’s child babysitting, when we simply give someone a refreshing drink or a 10-second hug. We can be that type of person who as an attitude of being thankful which puts us in a frame of mind to believe. And when there’s an opportunity to serve, we’re the first ones to say, “Here you go. I can do that for you.” And the result of our service with a thankful heart and mind is that others are blessed, God is glorified, and we are always richly rewarded when we serve others with love in our hearts.
Thankfulness in our hearts also smooths the way for a relationship to be sweeter. When we are thankful for what God has done for us, we may find it easier to forgive others, because we remember what God has forgiven us for.
Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Being thankful truly helps us put on the mind of Christ and be like him. Being thankful is so important in our lives. Thankfulness actually leads to giving thanks. Thankfulness inspires us to serve others and to give thanks. Thanks be to God.
Ephesians 5:20 says, “Give thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The truth of the matter is to give thanks, and to do it always. It takes no extra time at all to be thankful and to give thanks for all our blessings. And to give thanks well, we pray.
Apostle Paul wrote a letter to a group of folks in Thessalonica (a port in Greece, north of Athens), and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-27 reads, “Rejoice always and delight in your believing. Be unceasing and persistent in prayer. In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God. For this is the will of God for you. Do not quench subdue, or be unresponsive to the working and guidance of the holy spirit that is in you. Do not scorn or reject gifts of prophecies, which are spoken revelations—words of instruction or exhortation that you receive by praying. But test and examine and think about all things carefully so you can recognize what is good. Hold firmly to what is good. … and pray. And greet all the believers with a holy kiss. I solemnly charge you to have this read before all the congregation.”
It's a Choice
Thankfulness is a choice. God’s will for us is to have a thankful heart and mind and give thanks in everything. So that’s what we choose to do. By our choice, we determine our own thankfulness. Rather than focusing on the inconveniences, the negatives, or the pain of the situation, we can choose to remember what God has done for us, what we’re thankful for, so that we can live a life filled with love, joy, peace, power, and also to help others.
A key to maintaining a mindset of thankfulness is prayer. When we pray, we speak to God from our hearts. We share our deepest thoughts. We get quiet and speak. Just like a child speaks to her dad. Praying helps get our thoughts straight. It also helps us unwind and release what's going on in our heads. Praying helps us remember that our needs our met. It can bring to mind what has been given to us.
Apostle Paul knew about the power of prayer when he wrote not just to believers in Philippi a long time ago, but also to you. To you, a letter which in Philippians 4:6 reads, “Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything, every circumstance and situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your specific requests known to God. And what will result? The peace of God, that peace which reassures your heart, that peace which transcends everything you understanding, that peace which stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, that peace is yours.”
I have learned that the more thankful I am for what I have today, the more I'll have to be thankful for tomorrow. The blessings just keep coming.
Giving thanks is so important in our lives. It helps us see what God has done for us. It helps us help and serve others. Being thankful is a choice. We choose what to put in our minds. We choose what thoughts stay in our minds. Rather than feeding ourselves negative thoughts and focusing on the bad things, we choose to remember, to look at, the good things, what has been done for us, given to us to enjoy, so that we can joyfully give thanks in everything. We choose to be thankful. And we have so much to be thankful for. Let’s keep developing and working on our thoughts of thankfulness and enjoy the rich blessings and success in our lives. Let’s be thankful in every situation every day.
I hope that advice helps you be a better man and live a better life.
Right up front, I'm going to say that it's ultimately up to you to answer this question in order for the answer to mean something in your life.
My answer is, "Yes." But that answer does not help you, unless you believe it.
It's reasonable to believe in something without having to prove the assertion. Let me repeat that. It's reasonable to believe in something without being required to prove that thing exists.
But Can You Prove God Exists?
My answer is, "Yes." Give me the next 60 seconds to provide a reasonable explanation to my answer.
Man's Best Friend
I grew up with a dog name Bandit. That dog loved me. He walked with me. He talked with me. He protected me. He came when I called for him. He answered me. He was my best friend. I couldn't imagine growing up without that dog. He loved me. That dog loved me.
But I can't prove it. I can't prove that my dog loved me. There's no evidence. There's no science or data that can prove that his love for me existed. And to require evidence that a dog is man's best friend seems unreasonable. We all know this to be true.
Sometimes my wife is in pain. Not all the time. Just sometimes. That's my wife in the picture. She's the most beautiful woman in the world.
Sometimes her pain, on a scale from 1 to 10, is a 15. Again, it's not persistent, it's not all the time. It's here and there. If any of you have ever had back pain, it's a real pain in the butt. Heh. It's something that is always with you, some times you forget it, and then, "Bam!" It's there.
It's been years. We've had the best doctors. The best science has been researched and applied. We've taken tests and seen the results and made decisions based upon that data. And we're doing better. The pain is going away. And we're getting healthier and healthier every day. My wife will be 100% healthy at some point, maybe it's today. And we'll celebrate that "day without pain" for sure.
But to ask my wife to prove she's in pain is unreasonable. The doctors, science, and data do not prove the pain exists. But it does. It's subjective. Only my wife, my wife alone, can tell you what she's experiencing, can tell you what she's going through. It can't be measured. Doctors and scientists can acknowledge what people testify to, but often they can't prove it.
Prove Your Love
If you think you are in love and that your companion loves you, just ask them for information that you can verify, specifically with a neutral third-party scientist that could prove the love. This should be simple for any mature, reasonable human being who says they're in love. Yes? Just ask your companion to prove it. See what they say. I warn you, this may start a dispute.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof is the obligation of someone in a dispute to provide sufficient justification for their position, which may include perceptual experience (the evidence brought to you by your senses), reason (making sense of things based upon existing information), and authoritative testimony (solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter; to bear witness to; to declare something to be correct, true, or genuine; to declare the truth of something in words or writing).
But my dog and I, my wife and I, are not in a dispute. I remember my dog. And I believe my wife.
The Queen of England and President Trump
I have every reason to believe these two human beings exist. They are alive and well, at least for the time being. I believe they exist even though I've never met them. I've never actually seen them. I've never heard them say a single word. I've never touched them. Or smelled them. I've never even taken a picture of them. I've stood in front of the Queen's castle and the White House. But I have actually no evidence they exist. Yet I have every reason to believe they do.
Millions of people follow them. (Trump has more than 84 million Twitter followers, as of today). Millions have said they've seen these people. People say that they've been deeply and forever affected by their words and actions. People say that they've changed their entire lives, because of these two people (Trump and the Queen). Many people hate them. Many love them.
It's reasonable for me to assume that millions of people are not lying to themselves and to others. They're not imaging things. It would be unreasonable for me to require millions of people for 3rd-party neutral scientific evidence of what they believe in Trump or the Queen of England. And it's not unreasonable because I have never met Trump or the Queen of England, or that I don't believe those two people exist, it's just because it's unreasonable, it's not rational, to require proof of the assertion that they do indeed exist.
Describe God To Me
You could probably describe your best friend's personality, distinguishing characteristics, favorite food, or hobbies. Right? Just as you can describe your friend, you can actually describe what God is. Thousands of years ago, men and women testified as to what they described as God. Their descriptions are written down in the bible. People, inspired by God, wrote down what they believed best describes what God is. God, my inspiring people, gave us a description of himself in his Word, so that you can know God. Let’s learn about what God is by taking a look a few biblical verses.
In Genesis 1:1, we see that God is a creator.
In Deuteronomy 7:9, God is faithful, which means reliable; trusted; true to one's word, promises, and assertions.
Psalms 34:8 says that God is good.
Psalms 135:5 says that God is great.
Psalms 147:5 says that God is powerful.
Isaiah 26:4 says that God is strong.
John 4:24 says that God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Not a Man
Is God an old man with a big, bushy grey beard? No. Is God a man? No. Is God a woman? No. Is God Jesus? No. No to all of those questions. God is spirit, energy, and light.
The word “worship” in that verse (John 4:24) is the Greek word pronounced "pros-koo-neh'-o," which means to reverence. Worship is a feeling, attitude or gesture of deep respect; an act of devotion; adoration, or manifestation or acknowledgement offered to God. And the word “spirit” in that verse is the Greek word "pneuma," which refers to the spiritual energy inside you. Spirit connects you to God and everything in the universe. You may want to read "Spirit is a Force" in TheKingsGuide.com for more information.
God is peace in 1 Corinthians 14:33.
God is a father in 1 Corinthians 8:6, which says "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." Acknowledging God as a “father,” our heavenly father, help us realize all that he can and will do for us. Just as an earthly father has certain abilities that enable him to care for his children, God, our heavenly father, cares for us and fulfills his promises.
Ephesians 1:3 says that "God is our heavenly father, and father of Jesus Christ." So, God is also a father to Jesus Christ, who was a wonderful spiritual man.
Philippians 4:19 says that God is a supplier. And this is where where praying comes in. You may want to read "Trusting in God by Praying" in TheKingsGuide.com to learn what praying is.
1 John 1:5 says that God is light. Light. God is energy and light. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says that we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting. When we live in the light, we see things others can not. The unseen things of the world become visible and known to us, and we thereby become wise.
1 John 4:16 says that God is love. That's pretty plain and simple to understand. What do you love? I love my wife, my children, pepperoni pizza, football, and many other things. But who do you love? Who? Wherever there is love between people, there God is. Matthew 18:20 says, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” To learn more about being in the midst, read "The Meaning of Life Is in the Middle" from TheKingsGuide.com
In conclusion, we now have a pretty good description of God. People are always looking for evidence or proof of God existence. They do not see that God is all around us. He’s creation, goodness, peace, light, and love. It's reasonable to believe in something without having to prove it. Now, by studying God’s Word, we have a pretty good idea of who God is.
For advice on being a better husband, father and man, and learning how to live like a king, read more from The King's Guide. Please follow @TheKingGuide on Instagram.