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Sitting in the other seat

A couple of weeks ago it  was my privilege to attend the church as pastor, but to listen to somebody else preach. ‘Don’t you hate it?’ somebody asked me. The honest truth is that I don’t. As someone who  preaches over eighty sermons in a year, it does me the world of good to listen to somebody else.  Maybe you feel the same.  The issue is, though – how we listen. In his book Successful Workplace Communication, Phil Baguley lists nine different kinds of listening, of which there is a selection below:

  • Pretend– looks like you are listening, but your mind is somewhere else
  • Selective – you listen for a key piece of information & then stop listening after that
  • Labelling – you put the person into a ‘category’ -and then hear everything as typical of that kind of person
  • Predictive – you predict what the other person is going to say and then suspect their motives
I have to admit that I listen differently to different preachers. If I am listening to a new or inexperienced preacher, I find myself listening to the ‘how’ as well as to the ‘what’ of the sermon, so that I can feed back afterwards if required.  In general, the preachers concerned benefit, although I’m not sure I pay as much spiritual attention as I should.  If I am listening to a more experienced preacher, I relax a little more – and listen to see what God has to say to me. What about you?
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Richard Littledale

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