I often wonder if my hearing is waning I have lots of friends with high tech hearing aids; funny, I thought my friends needed them because they are all so much older than me, but then it’s not so funny because my friends are mostly my age. Selective hearing has been a suggestion that my wife has given as a possible reason for the problem. She I am not listening to her a lot of the time or that I only hear what I want to hear. Imagine that.
Sometimes I question if the kids I mentor are listening or are just waiting to get out from in front of me so they can get to doing whatever it is they were doing before I came along. I remember once when I was substitute teaching a group of sixth to eighth grade boys in a Sundayschool class. I was never much on the required teaching parts of our class; I just never really understood it. I probably would have if I had read over it, listened to the teacher in charge and asked questions, but I figured I was a fill-in and as long as we hit the highlights we were good. Well that just didn’t work. That age group is a fidgety group, and I figured I had to come up with something more extreme
So, during the time I met with the boys I would get them in a circle outside, in a corner on the floor or anyplace but the table. I would make up grand tales of adventure, hunting bear, fishing for shark, climbing mountains and other exciting stories. After I had their attention I would include how the Scripture or virtue of that week fit into the hog hunt with spears on horseback story I had told
Early on I wondered if I had made any impact on the boys or if they heard even a small piece of God’s Word I was sharing with them? In my heart I wanted them to hear that part of the story. Then I began to get comments from the director of the youth ministry at church, from moms who had a boy in my class and others
“I don’t know what bear hunting had to do with what you were teaching my son, but he has not stopped talking about it all week,” one mom said.
My little stories and the moral of the story were being shared and actually making an impact in some little way.
What I learned from that was that we all listen and learn in different ways, and that is OK. Boys can be distracted easily and unless you can engage them, they will miss a lot of the lessons they need to learn. They are designed to roll in the dirt, learn with their hands, associate meaning with physical motion. Today the kids are Go Pro, Red Bull, extreme sports and video erudite. Things are fast and wide open to them
One of the hardest things to teach a kid is to listen. Watch any kid walking down the street today, and I challenge you to see one go more than a minute or two without looking at their phone. What about reading a book in a quiet nook in their room or a window sill as the sun shines down warming their back? It is a rare kid, mine included.
The Bible talks a lot about listening. In the book of James, he shares, (1:19) “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,” in Proverbs 19:27, “Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
Recently I was interviewing kids from our ministry, Kids Outdoor Zone. I asked each the same questions. There was one answer that was consistent. I asked, “Have you ever experienced or heard from God at a KOZ meeting?” All of the kids who heard God speak heard him in their sit spots. A sit spot is a period of time in which we send the kids out into nature alone to sit under a tree, along a creek, on a rock in the sun, in nature. But alone and with the mission to speak to and listen for God.
Wow. It was incredible. Almost everyone told me stories of God speaking to them, to their hearts. I cried as one of them described in detail how God loved him and told him to, “Stick with it.”
I think we all need to find sit spots where we turn everything off and talk to Him but even more important, listen to Him. So often we miss the still quiet voice that wants to help us through something, help us make a good decision or just let us know all is well
As usual I need to pay attention to my own words here. We all need to be examples of listening for the next generation. If a small kid is talking to you, bend down and get eye to eye with them. Don’t pick up your phone when driving your kids to school in the morning. Ask them not to pick up theirs.
When you first get together with your wife in the evening, let her talk. Do we really need to re-check our e-mails from when we left the office or sat in our car in the driveway before we came into the house? Do people really expect us to reply from our work e-mail at 7, 8 or 9 p.m.? Do we really need to listen to our family at night, talk with and listen for God each day? Of course.
Hemmingway had it right. “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” I need to get it right, too.