When was the last time you were able to speak God’s truth over the life of a complete stranger? As Christ-followers, God calls us to be conduits of His grace and His truth to the outside world. However, Carmen LaBerge says we often fail to speak God’s truth to others because we fail to listen well.
“We cannot speak the truth into the life of another person until we have listened long enough to understand where they are and where that point of intersection with the Gospel might be.”
If we want to endeavor to listen well, Carmen recommends we start by asking open-ended questions.
“Good listening is about being very present with another person and then being non-defensive in the way that you listen to them. I’m not just listening to someone so I can find the point of attack. It doesn’t matter where I am or who I’m with, I’m going to ask an open-ended question.”
These kinds of questions can be as simple as: What are you thinking about? What’s on your mind? What brought you here today?
“Each one of those conversation starters is pretty simple. It also doesn’t make any assumptions about the other person. I’m going to listen long enough to find out enough about them so that I can enter into an honest conversation where I’m interested in knowing about them and who they are.”
Carmen says that one of the most important things to remember is the conversation isn’t about you.
“I want to take a posture of humility. This conversation is not about me. This conversation is not about me winning. This conversation is not about me scoring. This conversation is about this other person. I’m simply here as a representative of God in this conversation.”
It’s also important to realize that chances are most of the people we talk to will have some level of residual layer of negativity toward God or the church.
“I can’t repent for what happened to this other person. However, I can tend to the wound. I can acknowledge their pain. It’s not fair for me to expect somebody to ‘get over something’ that they have not been allowed to process through in a way that actually leads to healing.”
When we take time to listen to another person, we may just be rewarded with an opportunity to bear witness to the goodness of who God is.
Carmen LaBerge is a writer, speaker, and the host of The Reconnect with Carmen LaBerge. She is the author of Speak the Truth: How to Bring God Back into Every Conversation. She is a frequent guest on the Faith Radio and has written for prominent faith-based outlets, including Christianity Today, Christian Post, and Faithwire.
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