Hearing vs. listening...and the discipline of separating the noises of life

9-Things-You-Didn-t-Know-About-Your-Ears-mdnLISTEN! A fly on the wall of my house would probably hear this word 2,000 times per day.  With 2 young kids that progressively increase in curiosity ...I am constantly reminding them to listen!  At their age (and at any age, really) I’m learning that listening is a discipline.

Most of us are born with the innate ability to hear.  We are aware of the sounds happening all arounds us.  However, the ability to tune into certain noises is where LISTENING comes in.

To illustrate this idea, think of a song you love.  You’ve probably heard it hundreds of times.  Can you tell how many instruments are being played in it?  There is a difference between hearing a song and listening to what makes it up.

Or how about this one:  You are going to the mall on black Friday with the one you love.  Once there, you will most likely be asked how something looks...or how something fits.  (Keep in mind...you're in the midst of a sea of power buying...)  If you’re HEARING all thats going on around you but not LISTENING to one certain voice...you may find yourself listening to your own apologies!  Ha!

Our ears need to be trained to listen to what’s important.  I was reminded of this concept this morning as I read through 1 Samuel.  Samuel was a boy who grew up in the temple.  He was sleeping one night when he awoke to the sound of hearing his name being called.  “Samuel!”

Samuel then got up and ran to the person whom he thought was calling his name.  This happened 3 different times before this person, the priest Eli, taught Samuel to listen to the voice calling his name.  (Listening NEEDS to be taught...)

The 4th time Samuel heard his name being called, Samuel’s response was “Speak, your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 4:10b)

More than just hearing his name... Samuel was now in the position to LISTEN!  He was dialed in to the right voice...the right noise...the speaker of his name.  After this, Samuel heard from God regularly...because he was taught to listen for God’s voice.

Have you been taught to listen? 

Listening requires intentionality.  Without trying to LISTEN, we do a lot of HEARING.  Listening is like a muscle that needs developed.  Our ability to listen increases as we grow more accustomed to listening.

Life is a constant din of sound happening all around us which requires our intentionality to listen to what's really important!

As I continue to teach my kids to “LISTEN,” I’m reminded of the importance of instilling inside of them this skill of listening.  Above all of the battery powered toys, above the crunches of snacks, above the laughter and crying, above the Sesame Street theme song and endless Elmo giggling...there is a voice that wants to help them, to love them, the instruct them, to remind them of their importance, to encourage them and to inspire them to live out their meaning and purpose.  That's what I want them tuned in to.

God, our perfect father, has this desire to have his children tuned in as well.  Today, may you grow in the discipline of listening.