Listen

Kids aren't innate listeners, are they? I guess none of us are, which is why we read books and attend seminars on communication. Heck, I even have a Bachelor's degree in it...so I shouldn't be surprised when I tell my children something, and then a few moments later they have completely disregarded what I said.

What sparked this is that I told my kids I was going to the bathroom, so they should just play by themselves for a little. A couple minutes later I heard them wandering around the apartment calling, "Daddy...Daddy...where are you?" Did I not just tell them where I would be? I thought to myself. I let them go for a little while until they figured it out, and then reminded them of where I said I would be. They appeared ignorant, so they either totally weren't listening, or are incredibly forgetful; or maybe some combination of the two. Either way, it is frustrating when someone isn't paying attention to you, right? (My wife can attest to that.)



Maybe it was because I was reading the Bible while I was in the bathroom, and so I was feeling super spiritual, but a thought then occurred to me: This is probably what God feels like when he tells us stuff. (This has been a reoccurring theme in parenthood I am finding.) He gave us this whole book called the Bible with lots of answers to life's questions in it, but sometimes we are just lazy and ask him directly, hoping for a reply we didn't have to work for. That has to be frustrating to God, right? He must be thinking, I already told them that.

Often times Katie and I pray things like, "God, teach us how to be good parents," or "God, show us how to love others." They're good and noble prayers, but sometimes I think to myself, Didn't he already do that...in scripture? (Yes, I make dramatic pauses in my head, just for effect.) It's true though, right? There is a ton of insight on parenting and the whole book is about love -- so what are we missing?

I don't think we're veering too off track by praying these prayers, but I think maybe we're just being a little bit lazy. It's work to read the bible, memorize it, put it into practice. Sometimes it's easier to just let God do the work and teach us stuff directly, right? I can't be too harsh, because I'm not always a learner by reading, but rather by instruction or demonstration, so maybe this is just my natural learning impulse showing up. But it still beckons the self-analyzing question of are we listening to what God has already told us? Because he told us a lot, so we shouldn't ignore it.

Furthermore, God often speaks new insight through his word, or using illustrations from his word, so if we are missing this key element of communication with God, it's like trying to write letters to someone with a pencil on toilet paper -- only so much is going to go through (and most of it will be the pencil).


Comments

  1. Ask yourself (and be honest): are you listening to respond, or listening to understand? There is a big difference! Most people begin the listening process, and quickly begin processing their response. When this occurs the 'Receiver' misses 50 to 75% of the actual message! Communication involves a 'Sender' that encodes the message, and a 'Receiver' that decodes the message. Effective communication occurs when a 'Feedback Loop' is established. The Loop occurs when the 'Receiver' of the message asks clarifying questions to ensure the fully understand the message before formulating a response. The communication process also involves 'Noise.' Noise introduces barriers to communication in three forms: environmental, physiological, and psychological. Examples of environmental Noise are: distractions, multiple communications, media, traffic, construction, etc. Examples of physiological Noise are: hearing impairment, headaches, earaches, etc. Examples of psychological Noise are: attitudes, preconceptions, bias, value of communication, cultural differences, etc. We have to negotiate through all of these elements of communication to ensure they are effective. If anyone is interested in reviewing presentations on effective communication, please reach out to me at rick@competitiveedgeperformance.net.

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