A Lesson of Listening…

JOY Strengthens our HEARING 

 Great leaders are great listeners!

 Think about the man named Nehemiah for a second. He was the man who led the people of Israel to rebuild the wall surrounding Jerusalem and provide hope, direction, and vision to the newly rebuilt nation. He would eventually challenge the people to embrace the joy of God (Neh 8:8-12). But this leadership was fueled by Nehemiah’s greatest lesson. 

He learned to listen.

First, he listened to the heart & desires of GOD. Nehemiah 2 reminds us of how Nehemiah started his leadership vision. As he says, “what God put in my heart”. He took the time to listen to God. When we set aside time to hear Him, leadership begins. Influence begins to weave through our existence. 

            Can we take about 30 seconds right now to just sit still, and do nothing but “listen?” It’s amazing what we might hear. Sometimes it is a bird chirping. Or a conversation at the table next to us. Or … the voice of God. If we want

Second, refused to listen to the discouragement & lies of the opposition. In Nehemiah 4, a group of guys really tried to stir up the hornets’ nest and discourage Nehemiah and his crew from finishing the work. They lied. They blasted words of discouragement. Healthy listening is also mastering the art of plugging our ears to lies and words which bring death…

He listened to theneeds & longing of his peopleas seen in Chapter 5. Leaders listen to their people. They listen to their true needs, their sincere desires. This is what Nehemiah did. He knew and understood the deep desire of the people of Israel. He knew they wanted a fresh start. He knew they needed to security if they were to rebuild their city and nation…

But how is all this related to joy? I’m glad you asked. 

It is all related to JOY because… *Nehemiah understood the grace & smile of God. 

*The truth is, we listen so much better when we know God isn’t mad at us, but rather, He is madly in love with us! When someone is mad at us, our ears tend to go into clam mode. We tend to stuff cotton balls of self-preservation into our ear canal because we become afraid of the wrath. Or we pull out our 9mm pistol of defensiveness and start blasting back with anger or blame. 

But when someone speaks to us with a smile or kindness in their eye, our defense shield comes down. We are open to what they have to say.

For example, the other night one of my boys was really acting up with fits of anger, talking back, and outright disobedience. It was rough! I was getting really frustrated and he was striking a few nerves. Things got escalated and I finally had to just leave him in the room. There was no use trying to reason with him. And the more I spoke in frustration, the less I was getting through. 

So, I gave him some time to cool off. And it gave me time to cool off. Then I thought to myself, “Wait a second, I’m not mad at him. I love him. He doesn’t need my harsh criticism of his attitude. He needs my loving instruction.” So, after about 10 minutes of cooling down, I went back in with a renewed tenderness. A softer tone. A kinder look. And guess what? He began to listen. Because he started to realize I’m not mad at him. Yes, I had to discipline him, but he now understood why. And he responded what I had to say…

I think the same is true in our walk with God and in our roles of leadership… This seems to be a two-fold scenario.

In our relationship with God, when we understand he looks upon us with a smile 😁, our ears are open to hear what He has to say… Yes, He may need to bring some correction our way, but He is never mad at His kids. Recognize His gentle smile, His gracious ways. He delights in mercy. 

If we are allowing joy to permeate our way of thinking, do you think it may also begin to affect our roles in leadership. Do the people we are leading know we genuinely care for them? Do they acknowledge we have their best interest in mind? Or do they only know our tyrannical ways or our manipulations to meet deadlines or project goals? Thus, I must ask the question, are we allowing joy in our world? Are we allowing the joy of God to fill our solitude? Are we allowing joy to sit shotgun on the way to work? Are we allowing joy to touch our face before entering the next business meeting? I hope so. It will help our ears be attentive to the true needs around us. 

Just as the case with my son. We both learned something that day. He learned that his dad isn’t mad at him and he opened up to what I had to say. And I learned, that when I approach him in a spirit of kindness, peace, and joy I become a much better dad and leader.