It sounds easy, but it’s rare…
There are a lot of ways to show we care about someone. We can tell them. We can buy them a present. We can give them a hug. We can do something nice for them.
One of the best—and most neglected—ways to show we care about someone is to ask them questions and then to intentionally, carefully listen to the answers.
“What’s going on in your life?” This simple question opens a dialogue. It says you’re interested in that person. Everyone wants to share their story with someone. An interested person who asks a question could be the best thing that happened to that person that day.
Jesus asked questions all the time. “Why are you afraid?” “What do you want me to do for you?” “Where is your husband?” “Who do you say I am?” He cared about people and asked questions to show his compassion and also to lead them toward spiritual revelation.
“How are you doing?” Technically, it’s a question, but how often do we ask it, receive the stock answer, “I’m good,” and then move on without learning anything about what’s going on in that person’s life? How often are we more interested in what we will say to them than what they are saying to us?
Philippians 2:3 cautions us to, “…put others first and view others as more important than ourselves.” In verse four, we are advised to have, “…a greater concern for what matters to others instead of our own interests.”
If we want to share Jesus with others, it starts with being genuinely interested in their lives. That interest often shows itself in the form of a question.
Be on guard—the question loses its impact if it isn’t followed up with sincere, active listening. James 1:19 says, “…Be quick to listen, but slow to speak…” So often, we’re exactly the opposite. We’re quick to speak. We love the sound of our own voices. We are compelled by the importance of the happenings in our own lives. But we aren’t so good at listening to the circumstances in the lives of others.
People want to tell someone about their job, their children, what they had for dinner, and much more. They may be dealing with a sickness in the family, financial problems, or wondering about the purpose of life. Everyone needs someone to listen and to care, and we can be that someone.
Listening does more than just allow someone to vent. It creates a relationship. And a relationship may lead to an opportunity to share Jesus.
So, ask the question. Commit to listen more than you talk and to be more concerned about the other person’s concerns than your own. Asking questions and genuinely listening to the answer could be the start of change and healing in someone’s life.
Be brave and be interested. Be compassionate. Be like Jesus.
Heavenly Father, make me a better listener. Give me a genuine interest in others. Help me ask wise questions and give me the ability to listen with empathy and compassion. Use my interactions with others to show your love. In Jesus’s name, amen.