Monday, October 24, 2011

Learning to be Wise: Wise People Listen to Instruction.

          Proverbs 1:5 "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning";

      I taught college English for 9 years; I can tell you, there is a difference between looking at a speaker and actually listening attentively. The test results of my students proved that point very effectively!  Most people who sit in an audience do not realize what the preacher/teacher/speaker can see--usually he can see every face quite clearly; not only is just the face of each listener seen, but the facial expressions are usually quite clear too.  A speaker connects very rapidly with the listener who responds in a positive manner with his facial expressions because that person, unfortunately, is few and far between. The Positive Responder gives the speaker courage to express his points just as he had them planned. 
     Then you have the Sour Faces. The speaker tries to avoid those who obviously disagree or dislike what the speaker is saying.  The Sour Faces can discourage the speaker with a shake of the head or a pursing of the lips. Fortunately, the Sour Faces are usually in the minority.
     The other group is the group that is filling in the seats between the positive responders and the sour faces--that would be the average listener who is really paying attention on and off while they drift  in and out of their daydreams.  I think I'll call them the Drifters. 
     Most people are never taught to listen and pay attention which is really a shame. I took a class taught by Mrs. Carol Tudor when I was in college.  I remember her taking a few minutes to show the class how to pay attention--she was probably seeing a whole lot of Drifters during the class hour. She said that when we listen, we should do our best to keep our eyes on the speaker and listen with a look of interest on our faces. When something funny was said, we should laugh. When we agreed, we should nod our heads or smile. She said that our faces should take on a look of involved interest. 
     I took that advice to heart. I remember a time when I must have been a really annoying listener. I had a habit of looking at my fingernails while listening--I really was listening to a certain extent, but I sure must have looked disinterested.  I found that once I took on an appearance of interest, I began to retain more of the message being presented.
     I like to take notes while listening to a speaker because I don't have the greatest memory in the world, but I know that some speakers don't like for the listener to take notes because it can appear that the listener is doing more writing than listening. If your pastor or teacher likes for you to take notes, then feel free to do so; if not, then support the speaker and make them feel like you are on board.
     Listening is a characteristic that can be taught to children. Have you ever asked your child to get something for you and he comes back with nothing or something totally different?  Kids need to be taught to engage their brains when being spoken to.  Oftentimes, I have found it helpful to have my kids or even students repeat what I had just said to make sure they heard and understood what I was saying. A wise parent will train his child to listen, so that child will grow up to be a wise person and not a fool. Not listening is not a sin; but it sure is a bad habit that can lead to foolish behavior, and foolish behavior according to God's Word is a sin.
     We can all work on our ability to listen and when we do listen, really listen, to godly instruction, we will grow wiser.

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