January 20, Sunday

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Surprised by Listening”

1 Kings 3:9

So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”

Having served on multiple short-term mission teams and lived overseas for over one year, I learned that while entering a new country is a cross-cultural experience, collaborating with different people after meeting them for the first time in a short span of time is a cross-universe challenge. Teamwork is like entering another person’s world to understand his or her perspective and realizing that others have to make the same leap to understand and “get” me. It is where God orchestrates multiple “nations” to work as one; and working through the friction and disagreements is a part of His refining work so that our capacity to love would expand. What brings victory to the cross-universe challenge is the ability to listen to the other. There is great joy in being loved and understood, and serving my teammates through listening, than in being right.

When Solomon began his kingship, he asked the Lord for an understanding heart so that He would gain wisdom from God to rule Israel. Some translations say, “discerning mind” instead of “understanding heart,” but in the Hebrew it literally means “a listening heart.” While Solomon gives us an example of growing a heart for listening to God, we can also apply this desire to our relationship to others. In your life has there ever been a person who surprised you with listening? It is common that we listen by default because of a role or position. Employees listen to their boss and students to teachers, but a person with a listening heart invites people to their safe space and takes genuine interest in them to understand them as a person.

As God attentively listens to our prayers, let us consider how we can serve others with a listening heart, though it is costly and requires us to put down our agendas to fix people or problems. We can echo the prayer that St. Francis wrote:

“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled, as to console;

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved as to love.”

Prayer: Dear Father, I desire to grow a listening heart towards Your Word as well as towards others. Enable me to minister Your love and compassion to others through the art of listening and being with people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 23

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