Sunday Listening from Come before Winter Chuck Swindoll pp 116-117

…Dr Ralph Nichols, considered by many to be an authority on the subject [listening], believes that we think four, perhaps five times faster, than we talk. That means that if a speaker utters one hundred twenty words a minute, the audience thinks at about five hundred words a minute. That difference offers a strong temptation to listeners to take mental excursions … to think about last night’s bridge game or tomorrow’s sales report or the need to get that engine tune-up before next weekend’s trip to the mountains … then phase back into the speakers talk…

…there are two crucial ingredients that make it happen. First, the one who speaks must speak well. Second, the one who listens must listen well. Neither is automatic. Both are hard work…

…I’m indebted to Haddon Robinson, a Ph.D in the field of communication, for these four don’ts that are worth remembering.

Don’t assume the subject is dull. When the topic is announced, avoid the habit of thinking, ‘I’ve heard that before’ or ‘This doesn’t apply to me.’ Good listeners believe they can learn something from everyone. Any message will have a fresh insight or a helpful illustration. A keen ear will listen for such.

Don’t criticize before hearing the speaker out. All speakers have faults. If you focus on them, you will miss some profitable points being made. Those who listen well will refuse to waste valuable time concentrating on the negatives. They also refuse to jump to conclusions until the entire talk is complete.

Don’t let your prejudices close your mind. Some subjects are charged with intense emotions. Effective listeners keep an open mind, restraining the tendency to argue or agree until they fully understand the speaker’s position in light of what the Scriptures teach.

Don’t waste the advantage which thought has over speech. Remember the gap between speech-speed and thought-speed? Diligent listeners practice four skills as they mentally occupy themselves:

First, they try to guess the next point.

Second, they challenge supporting evidence.

Third, they mentally summarize what they have heard.

Fourth, they apply the Scripture at each point.

Young Samuel took the advice of Eli the priest…

‘Speak, for thy servant is listening.’

Try that next Sunday. A few seconds before the sermon begins, pray that prayer. You will be amazed how much more you hear when you work hard to listen well.

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