The Lost Art of Listening

The Art of Listening

Communication is more important than ever in our high-speed, high-tech world, and yet we seem to be devoting less and less time to really listening. Have you noticed that genuine listening is becoming obsolete?

Hearing and listening are two different animals. Hearing refers to the sound that enters your ears. Listening, however, requires more. It requires focus and concentrated effort, both mental and at times physical.

There is an art to listening well

I’ve had a few great teachers who have helped me hone my listening skills. I have a long way to go at mastering the art of listening, mind you. But because I believe listening is a critically important skill, I want to share a little about my teachers and the lessons I learned from them.

I inherited the gift of gab from my mom. She was a real sensei—with a black belt in talking to strangers as well as public speaking. Yet, she humbly admitted her gift was also a weakness because she often failed to listen when others were talking. Determined to do something about her lack of listening skills, she prayed and asked God to help. And he did. I was a witness to the progression.

Being A Good Listener is a Choice

Mom recognized she needed help and chose to do something. She asked the Lord to help bridle her tongue.

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” James 1:26

Be Willing to Learn

Humbly seek God’s guidance and supernatural strength through His word and other godly resources.

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” Proverbs 18:15

My husband, Scott, is a reserved man unless the conversation is about sports, that is. He is also a ‘thinker’. It takes him awhile to answer even simple questions, which in the beginning of our relationship drove my bananas. But I’ve learned to respect this quality. Now, when he does speak, I’m all ears because I know it is something well-thought-out and most likely important.

I come from a family of people who say what they think. I remember during an argument many years ago, Scott telling me, “You know, you don’t have to say everything you think.” What an epiphany!

Stop Talking

You cannot listen well if you’re still talking.

“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3

Don’t Interrupt

Because my husband is a thinker, I have learned to wait and make sure he’s finished his thought process before I speak. I look at his face for visual cues. If I interrupt him, I may miss what he wanted to communicate.

Wait Patiently During a Lull

“Spouting off before listening to the facts  is both shameful and foolish.” Proverbs 18:13

My middle son, Chad inherited his grandma’s gift of gab. From a young age, the boy had a way with words and he wanted everyone to listen. If I was busy doing another task while listening to him, he would become frustrated. Once he even put both hands on either side of my cheeks saying, “Wook (look) at my eyes, Mommy.”

Be Attentive

Our body language speaks without words. We should make eye contact, nod, and acknowledge the person we are listening to.

“My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel.” Proverbs 5:1 (emphasis added)

When my kids grew into teenagers, communication became more of a challenge. There were more interruptions, less time to talk, and they were being exposed to new ideas. I had to learn to listen without judging or jumping to conclusions.

Keep an Open Mind

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19

When telling my young children to do a task, I often would ask them to repeat it back to me. “What did Mommy ask you to do?”

Once my daughter gave me a dose of my own medicine saying, “What did I tell you I want for dessert, Mommy?” I laughed, of course! But it helps to make sure the message was received the way we intend.

Give Feedback

Once the person is finished talking, it’s important to let them know that we heard and understood them correctly. This is also the time to ask if they want feedback on what was spoken.

“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinion.” Proverbs 18:2

One of the most powerful ways to love and connect with another person is to listen—really listen.


Have you noticed that listening well is becoming a lost art? What tips work for you?

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#1 Relationship Killer: Unrealistic Expectations

Our first Valentine’s Day together, my husband, Scott, bought me a dozen long-stem roses. This Friday we will be celebrating twenty-seven years of marriage. Guess how many times he’s bought me a dozen long stem roses? Once.

It’s a good thing I didn’t expect roses every Valentine’s Day, right? Now, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression about Scott. After being together over thirty years (we dated for three), he’s done plenty of “unexpected” romantic things. That’s one aspect of his personality I love—spontaneity. Plus, roses on Valentine’s Day are too much money!

Where do our expectations come from?

Expectations stem from our thought process when examining evidence combined with personal experiences. They usually come from what we’re used to, our families growing up or our personalities.

We place expectations on ourselves and all our relationships—family, friends, co-workers, bosses, pastors, strangers, and even God.

Expectations can be good or bad, high or low, realistic or unrealistic. But usually, unexpressed expectations get us in trouble. And expectations based on assumptions get us in trouble too.

When Scott and I got married, we both had our expectations for each other. Many of them were not discussed until a conflict arose. What I’m going to share with you is a short outline of what we’ve learned through trial and error, but more importantly, through our relationship with Jesus Christ.

How to Form Healthy Expectations

The Bible gives us some principles to form expectations and deal wisely with the expectations of others.


I’m sure this comes as no surprise. Openness and honesty first with ourselves and then with others is a must. We need to take a good hard look at what we expect and discuss it with our loved ones.

No one but God can read your mind

When you communicate:

  • Choose an appropriate time to talk.
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be gentle, be loving, and be direct. Don’t dance around the issue.
  • Ask for feedback to make sure the other person understands what you’ve communicated.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Listen and show you are listening by nodding, smiling, etc.
  • Wait for the person to complete a thought without interruption.
  • If you don’t understand something, say so.
  • Paraphrase what you heard so the other knows you understand.

We all make mistakes (Romans 3:23). We all fail ourselves and others (James 3:2), and we must be able to communicate when we are wrong.


The Hebrews were expecting the Messiah (Luke 3:15). Yet, when Jesus the Messiah came, they had unrealistic expectations of what he would do. When He didn’t fulfill their expectations, they crucified him.

Jesus forgave those who killed him (Luke 23:34). Jesus forgives us for our many sins. And we must forgive others too. This includes our loved ones or friends who harbor anger towards us or have unrealistic expectations of us.

Unforgiveness is cancer. If allowed to remain in our hearts, like cancer, it will turn to bitterness and destroy relationships, including a healthy relationship with God.

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.” Psalm 37:8

“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26


“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

To live this kind of love is impossible without the Holy Spirit. As long as we are on this planet, we will be challenged to show love and mercy the way Christ did.

We need to remember that all people are different. It pleased God to make us with differences. As Christ followers, we are obligated to grow in love and grace (2 Peter 3:18, Philippians 1:9)

If we have created expectations for others that they cannot meet, it’s not their fault. On the same token, we are not obligated to live up to others unreasonable expectations.

If we place all our expectations and hopes on anything other than God, we will always come up wanting (Daniel 5:27)

When we place our expectations on God and the truth of His word, we will always be satisfied. (Psalm 22:26: 107:9, John 6:35)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject in the comments below.



An Inspirational Teenager

An Inspirational Teenager

It’s easy to look at today’s generation of teenagers and say they are babied, selfish to the point of entitlement, disrespectful, and oversensitive. Perhaps some of that is true. But I’d like to prove to you, there are still many, many absolutely fantastic teenagers! Today I have the privilege of sharing some of seven-teen-year-old, Matt McHenry’s story.

When Matt was a sophomore, he knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps of military service. The trouble was, Matt’s school didn’t offer the typical programs such as ROTC or Cadet Corps designed to help prepare students for service in the armed forces. But this didn’t stop Matt.

He decided to do something about it.

A part of ASB since Junior High (VP), Matt knew he would need support if he wanted to accomplish getting a military program started from the ground up at his school. He spoke with interested students, teachers, and school leaders—one of which is now a superintendent. He pointed out how his school offered different career pathways like medical and engineering, so why not something for those interested in serving our country?

Matt was told there was a ten-year standstill to get a military program like ROTC started. Rather than give up, he chose to keep pressing on.

There was desire and need. He was determined to make it happen.

The school’s Vice Principal rewarded Matt’s tenacity by introducing him to a teacher, Mr. Bravo who decided to help. Together they established an after-school program that began as a Prep Club. Forty-five kids showed up to the first meeting. Mr. Bravo, having served in the military himself, introduced the kids to their first PT (physical training) on the spot. The next meeting only ten students showed up. Of course, these were the students who truly were looking for military preparation.

Around this same time, Matt’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

He and his family watched her go through chemotherapy and surgery with positivity and bravery.

“She’s a fantastic person with a golden philosophy for life. And that was even before going through breast cancer,” Matt said. “Few people are like her. She’s incredible and a fighter. She’s inspired and encouraged me.” Much to Matt’s relief, his mom remains cancer-free and still very much a driving force in his life.

Today Matt is a senior and the commander of the Prep Club. He and Mr. Bravo have continued to expand the program they started from scratch. Each of the 60 members now has uniforms, a chain of command, and an Operations Hand Book which Matt himself just finished writing.

“My goal is to leave this school better than I found it.”

Outside of school, Matt is working towards the qualifications for his pilot’s license. He either wants to join the Air Force or the Navy. He’s looking into all of his options including what it takes to get into the prestigious United States Military Academy West Point.

“My dad served in the army. I feel obligated to serve and do my part for my country to help make this world a better place,” Matt says.

Who would know better than a teenager himself, how difficult it can be? Matt sees the struggles his peers face and considers himself fortunate to have great parents and support from his school. When I asked him for some words of advice for teenagers, this is what he said:

“Keep going. Don’t give up. There’s brighter days ahead past high school. Find the thing you’re passionate about, that fills you with joy. What inspires you?
Find out and do it.”

Inspiring words from a seventeen-year-old that can help anyone no matter the age.

I hope this article was as inspirational for you to read as it was for me to write. 

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Serrano High School’s first Military Prep Club



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