“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” Karl A. Menniger
Books, articles, blogs, and anything written on the subject of communication, generally connects the importance of listening. Leaders, of all people, need to be good listeners.
The challenge of listening exists because we are usually thinking of how to respond. We wait until the other person breathes and we jump in with our thoughts.
How can we improve our ability to listen? A few suggestions include:
Remove distractions: Whether phone, television, computer, or whatever might fit in this category, we need to remove ourselves from it and give our attention to the other person.
Wait for the finish: This is the hardest one. Learning to wait and make sure someone has completed their thoughts is haunting, but we will have time to formulate how we want to respond.
Listen beyond the words: Body language and tone of voice are critical to understanding the meaning behind the words we hear.
Incredible! Great! Fantastic! Spectacular! Amazing! Grueling! Abrasive! Controlling!
There is no end to adjectives in the English language. Basically, an adjective is a word, or phrase, that names an attribute to modify or describe a noun.
Think about the descriptive nature in which we communicate with friends and family.
We live in a world where we communicate with the use of words. Interestingly, what we hear and read is often presented with an incredible, spectacular, and unbelievable multiplicity of adjectives.
The thought of how adjectives have proliferated our English language raises a few questions: What word, or phrase, would we use to modify or describe our leadership? Are we looking for a word in the list above? Are we concerned with using a word more Biblical in nature?
Godly! Spiritual! Righteous! Knowledgeable! Patient! Compassionate! Faithful!
Hopefully, these adjectives carry a different ring for all of us and one that drives us to consider how we can live into them.
Today, let us strive to lead others in a manner they will describe Biblically.
Before answering this question, we need to consider the paths we could take to answer it. When was the last time…
…we told our spouse we love them?
…we hugged our children and told them how proud we were of their achievement?
…we used the words “thank you” for a kind gesture to a co-worker?
This is simply the proverbial “drop in the bucket.” Examining the way we ask this question regarding our leadership changes how we view our influence. When was the last time…
…we paused to think about the impact of our words on others?
…we decided to do a menial task instead of asking someone else to do it?
…we praised someone for their work instead of finding a way to ignore it?
…we gave credit to others for their work in order to encourage them?
…we took the time to help someone up the ladder, instead of pursuing our own?
…we made it a priority to share the gospel and lead someone to Christ?
The list is unending, but the question needs to be asked: When was the last time?
The idea of potential is prevalent in every area of life, but what is potential?
Basically, potential is an ability or capability with the possibility of being or becoming something.
In his book, 9 Things A Leader Must Do, Dr. Henry Cloud writes, “One of the worst things you can die with is potential.”
The wheels ought to be turning. What is our potential? How do we achieve our greatest potential? While other questions came to mind, these two need priority.
We cannot know or reach our greatest potential without taking some level of risk. We must determine our desires and the necessary path to reach them. We must be willing to step out of the comfort zone and do whatever it takes.
Cloud goes on to point out “potential is something to be realized, not guarded or protected. So, dig it up! Invest it!”
Our spiritual leadership involves potential. Others follow and depend on us. Reaching out to maximize our potential enables us to help others reach their potential. Spiritually, when the potential of God’s people is unleashed, we will change the world.
The fourth step up the leadership mountain is a beautiful step of fulfillment, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” The thought is often expressed in relationship to the word of God, but the word of God is not mentioned in this context.
The terms used are interesting: “hungering and thirsting” for what is right with God or what God calls right.
From the Old Testament, familiar to the Jews Jesus addresses, it was not uncommon for righteousness to be associated with justice for the poor, orphans, and widows (Proverbs 14:31-35; Isaiah 11:1-5; and Jeremiah 22:15-18). These are a few passages addressing the subject.
Consider the way Jesus used this term in Mt. 5:6, 10, 20, 45; 6:1, 33. If righteousness is replaced by the word “justice,” and seen in light of helping those in need, imagine the impact in application.
Leaders are needed who understand the righteousness / justice directed to the afflicted and recognize that climbing the leadership mountain of God demands attention to the kind of satisfaction that comes by hungering and thirsting for this kind of righteousness / justice.
“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” Bruce Lee
Reading this several times brought a number of thoughts to mind. We understand the value of working a little each day to improve who we are and what we do as leaders. This post is not intended to diminish that thought.
While reading the thought of the day, the expression is one not considered before when thinking about how to develop our leadership.
The idea of hacking away at the nonessentials, removing the weight that easily burdens us and slows us down, eliminating areas of life that are unimportant to the greater development of our spiritual well-being, or eradicating the distractions vying for our attention, is a thought that can be a game changer.
Take a moment and evaluate the areas in life that fall into the category of nonessentials. This exercise alone will help prioritize life, regain needed focus, and strengthen our resolve in matters of eternal consequence.
Our health, our family, our jobs, our God, and His church deserve consideration of this thought.
Everyone seeks, or at least they should, timeless nuggets of advice. I am talking about those pieces of information unaltered by time, generation, or culture. These nuggets are not always easy to find and often they are overlooked for something believed to have greater value.
Joshua was given a piece of advice meeting our criteria: “be strong and very courageous.” God emphasized strength and courage three times in this context.
As we consider the timeless nature of this advice, the context has powerful implications in the realm of spiritual leadership.
Notice the key thoughts associated with this advice:
Be careful to do according to all the law.
Do not turn from it to the right or to the left.
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth.
You shall meditate on it day and night.
Be careful to do according to all that is written in it.
God specifies that Joshua’s success depends on following this advice.
The success of our leadership today depends on following this timeless advice. How different would our world be if spiritual leaders had the strength and courage to do so?