If you’re a parent, you’ve likely have had a conversation or a thousand with your children about listening and obeying. From early on, a major part of training kids involves teaching them to pay attention to the instructions and commands you give them for their good, and to follow them!
Guess what? God has the same challenge with you and me. Although you would think that adults would know better, the reality is, we don’t!
Take a look at what Moses told the Israelites during a very significant time for the nation:
Deuteronomy 4:1, 2 (NLT) And now, Israel, listen carefully to these decrees and regulations that I am about to teach you. Obey them so that you may live, so you may enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.
In these verses we find Moses preparing the Israelites for their eventual entrance into the Promised Land. He emphasized two simple but positive, life-changing practices: listening and obeying.
Obedience is the key to blessing. Obeying God means that we lay aside our preferences, rationalizations, justifications, arguments, need for dialogue, information and discussion and do what we’re directed, instructed or commanded to do. It means that we submit our will to the One who is wiser, greater and stronger. Obedience is the real test of submission and surrender. It’s the only true demonstration of living under God’s authority. Actions speak louder than words.
But something must happen before we obey. Listening, and listening well precedes obedience. You will not obey what you haven’t heard, and you will not obey well what you haven’t heard well or accurately.
The onus for listening is personal. God doesn’t listen for us. Other people aren’t responsible for how effectively we listen. We have to do the listening ourselves. Listening and listening well to instructions, directives and guidance given is our responsibility. It’s an ability that each person must choose to develop and engage.
One of the most important capacities you’ll ever develop is listening skills. There are many people who miss out on blessings, promotions, or opportunities for advancement because they haven’t learned to listen, or haven’t learned to listen well. God was concerned that this would happen to the Israelites. That’s why Moses addressed it at this critical time in their history. Lack of listening could and would rob their possibilities and potential.
Good listening starts with personal desire for growth. If I don’t listen well to the instructions, guidance, feedback, help, directives, etc. that are given to me I will not grow. If I don’t grow, I can’t be all God designed me to be. My effectiveness is linked to my capacity and willingness to listen. This makes listening the first step toward all great things in life.
The result of listening well is change. Changed behavior, changed attitudes, changed approaches, changed thoughts, changed responses, changed skills, and changed character.
How well do you listen? What will you do to improve your listening skills?