When Ruins Sing...

Where my faith and creativity collide! A freedom freelancer, prayerful painter and clarion for Christ.

L.I.S.T.E.N : 6 Steps to Add Value Through Intentional Hearing

FullSizeRenderWe show our love for God by loving others, and that can look a variety of different ways.  God gives us opportunities everyday to be His hands, feet, eyes and ears.   If we pray for God to reveal these opportunities, HE is faithful and will do it, but I am finding that MY ABILITY is rarely the prerequisite.  AVAILABILITY is what counts.   The more I simply show up, the more HE equips and empowers me to do HIS Kingdom work.

I am willing.  GOD is able.  That is how we dance.

Several years ago, I was asked to go on a mission trip to Brazil.  At this point in my walk with the Lord, I had the false assumption that all mission trips involved building houses or digging well, neither of which I was the poster child for; therefore, in God’s economy I thought I was the perfect candidate:

available with no ability!

I was wrong, but still willing and as you will see, still completely unable.

The team was going to do a women’s conference at a local seminary and at several churches.  They were traveling to South America to encourage and share resources with students, leaders, and church members.  Each team member was responsible for speaking on a particular topic during numerous breakout sessions and was asked to give their testimony at some point during the trip.

Building a skyscraper was a less daunting assignment than public speaking at this stage in my faith walk.  I also had no idea what kind of breakout session I could possible lead.  I had been a water aerobics instructor and a personal trainer for the past few years.  How does that fit into a Brazilian seminary encouragement extravaganza?

I was still willing.  God was still faithful.

So

we danced.

I did not lead a breakout session in a pool and I did not teach the women how to do lunges for Jesus, but I did use a skill God had been honing in me during my wellness center years.  One of a personal trainer’s primary jobs is to LISTEN.

 I had listened to and learned from their lives,

their stories of:

prodigal children, death of spouses and parents, college decision-making, friend issues, addiction battles, cancer chemo treatments, divorce, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, insecurities, moves, job losses, strokes, graduations, new grand babies, etc…

We had cried, laughed and sweated together.  I loved my people and I am forever changed for the better because they let me in.

And

I LISTENED.

The Lord laid the acronym L.I.S.T.E.N. on my heart and I immediately knew what HE wanted me to share with my new sisters in Brazil.  The team lead told me to  run with it and I listened to the lead and the Lord, and wrote:

L.I.S.T.E.N: 6 Steps to Add Value Through Intentional Hearing

**The art of listening well is intentional; it does not happen by accident.  When we stop paying attention to what we hear, we tell those around us that their voice does not matter; therefore, we devalue them with our disengagement.

It is when we lean in, lock eyes, and say, “I hear you,” that we add value to the life of another.

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It is impossible to truly LOVE without the LOVE of God, because God is Love.

Step 1 in intentional hearing is to listen through the filter of LOVE, not my human love, but supernatural LOVE that can only come from God.

If I rely on my own ability to love, at best, I can listen to someone through the filter of “conditional” love.

But God’s LOVE is “unconditional”; therefore, HE makes it possible for us to listen through a filter,

a filter that hears beyond the words and into the heart.

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This is where it gets personal.  This is where a lot of people check out. This is where it can get painful.

But through the filter of LOVE, the pain is worth it, in order to add value to the life of another.

 Step 2 in intentional hearing is internalizing.  It is where we give someone the gift of, “Me too.”

We have loved and now we have let them know that they are not alone!

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Sharing someone’s pain and brokenness connects but sharing TRUTH, God’s TRUTH, is what corrects!

Steps 3 & 4 are crucial.  Sharing God’s TRUTH reminds us of the correct definition of Who God is and Who God says we are.  If we only shared true stories of personal pain, we would connect but we would simply stir up a pot of lies together.

God’s TRUTH heals our brokenness and begins to transform us by the renewing of our minds.

When our minds are engaged in memorizing TRUTH we can not fixate on lies.  The TRUTH begins to sink deep into hearts of flesh, changing our DNA, replacing the tablets of stone.

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Step 5 is to engage.  Engaging is NOT to offer advice or opinion.

This is where you pray and encourage.  This is where you engage the enemy, fight for them on your knees, interceding for them at times they may find it hard to pray for themselves.

Ask questions and repeat back to them what you hear them saying.  Ask them how they feel, rather than asking for circumstantial details. Keep questions away from finger pointing and help them excavate their own hearts.

Engaging with questions and intentionally hearing and repeating back what you heard helps an individual evaluate their own emotional state.  Ask what you can pray for them and then do it.

Continue to engage the enemy, interceding on their behalf, whenever your friend comes to mind.  Lift them up on your knees, write a note, send an email, text, call or show up on their door step.

To engage is to encourage.

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Step 6 is their next step.

When someone finally gets to the place where they are brave enough to let the light shine on their darkest corners, they have a decision to make.

Sometimes it looks like counseling, or a doctor, or 12 steps,

but sometimes it may look like letting someone who truly LISTENS:

*continue to meet you at the gym,

*cry and laugh with you in your pain and joy,

*share the GOLD they’ve dug out in God’s TRUTH,

*and ask you the hard questions, hear your heart and pray you through.

I already told you how God spent many years honing my listening skills as a personal trainer.  I genuinely loved every person God gave me to train.  The irony is that their life stories were actually training me.

God gave me LOVE glasses for all of their diverse personalities.  HE allowed me to connect on a heart level by internalizing their stories and finding myself somewhere in the pages of their lives.  HE gave me HIS TRUTH to share, so they could see God and see HIS image in themselves, and HE made me an intercessor, who found her own strength as she encouraged others.

When one leaves the gym, the real work begins.  You no longer have someone standing over you LISTENING!  The next step is up to you.

Who are we going to LISTEN to?

Are we going to believe the lie that we are unloveable or accept LOVE and give LOVE generously?

Are we going to believe the lie that we are alone and no one could have ever felt our pain, or are we going to let someone in, let them connect and give us the gift of “Me too,” and then go out and do the same for another?

Are we going to listen to the lies of the mirror, our past, and the nay-sayers or are we going to soak up and believe the TRUTH SHARED IN LOVE and then go share HIM with another, who is stuck in their brokenness?

Are we going to stick to the shallow end and redirect the conversations away from our hearts, or are we going to give someone permission to hold us accountable, to ask the hard questions and pray us through?

Are we going to keep stopping at the exit of a cell that is unlocked and open, or are we finally going to take the next step, whatever that may be, and walk out free,

Free indeed!

I know that each of these steps may seem like common knowledge, but I have found that when I think I know something, I often start drifting, which takes us nowhere but down or stuck.  There is no value in that.  Common knowledge is a red flag to pay attention.

 I hope these 6 Steps help you add value to the world around you through intentional hearing:

L.I.S.T.E.N !

About Katie Wilson

Where my faith and creativity collide! A freedom freelancer, prayerful painter and clarion for Christ. #amwriting #Compel Forgiven and Free Living a life that says: COME AND SEE!

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