Regardless of which book, or which passage of scripture I select, there are recurring themes that often follow me around for days on end. In recent weeks I have been accompanied by the subject of listening.
Years ago my mother was often given to chuckling (or annoyance) about how readily I ran to the kitchen when I heard the crumple of a candy wrapper, but how feigned my response - "I didn't hear you" - when called to dry dishes. Seems we are all capable of hearing what we want to hear & tuning out the rest.
No one did this better than God's wayward people. It was the root cause of their trouble, for certainly not listening meant not hearing, and not hearing meant not obeying, and not obeying meant a trip to the woodshed.
In the Book of Jeremiah alone we find the term listen used over 57 times in direct corrolation to God's people being told to listen, and then being told why their not listening was an unwise maneuver. For example:
But they did not listen or
instead, they followed the stubborn
inclinations of their evil hearts.
They went backward and
I warned you when you felt secure,
but you said, 'I will not listen!’
This has been your way from
your youth; you have not obeyed me.
Ugh! There it is: the tether between listening & obeying. Hard to ignore.
I don't know about you, but I'm still capable of hearing what I want to hear & tuning out the rest. God's crumpling of a candy wrapper (the parts of scripture I like best) still gets my attention, but a call to do something I'm not too kean about (the parts that cost me more than I'm willing to pay or surrender) ... not so much.
Maybe there's something to be said about developing better listening skills ...
Maintain eye contact with the instructor. Of course you will need to look at your notebook to write your notes, but eye contact keeps you focused on the job at hand and keeps you involved in the lecture.
Focus on content, not delivery. Have you ever counted the number of times a teacher clears his/her throat in a fifteen minute period? If so, you weren't focusing on content.
Avoid emotional involvement. When you are too emotionally involved in listening, you tend to hear what you want to hear--not what is actually being said. Try to remain objective and open-minded.
Avoid distractions. Don't let your mind wander or be distracted by the person shuffling papers near you. If the classroom is too hot or too cold try to remedy that situation if you can. The solution may require that you dress more appropriately to the room temperature.
Treat listening as a challenging mental task. Listening to an academic lecture is not a passive act--at least it shouldn't be. You need to concentrate on what is said so that you can process the information into your notes.
Stay active by asking mental questions. Active listening keeps you on your toes. Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you listen. What key point is the professor making? How does this fit with what I know from previous lectures? How is this lecture organized?
Use the gap between the rate of speech and your rate of thought. You can think faster than the lecturer can talk. That's one reason your mind may tend to wander.
All the above suggestions will help you keep your mind occupied and focused on what being said. You can actually begin to anticipate what the professor is going to say as a way to keep your mind from straying. Your mind does have the capacity to listen, think, write and ponder at the same time, but it does take practice.
Wish I'd said all that. Then again, I can listen and hear, then choose to obey.
Listening Skills, Taken from the Student Handbook/University of Minnesota