The Art of Listening Can Make You an Influencer

When I was young, I never knew how to be quiet. I wasn’t overly loud, but I talked all the time. When I had no one else with whom to talk, I talked to myself. Even when I wasn’t talking, I was making some kind of noise, some sound effect, some imitation. It especially drove my sister crazy.

I had so much energy and excitement. I had so much to share. It was roiling and bubbling inside me, and it had to find a way out. It always did, just not always in the best way.

My fourth-grade teacher even threw a book at my head one day because…well, talking. I didn’t answer a question in exactly the right way (probably more than once), and when I was corrected, I began to talk to myself quietly. Evidently, for some adults that can be distracting or even misinterpreted as “mouthing off.” Thus, book…head.

By the time I became a young man, I still hadn’t learned. I often got so focused on what I had to say that I never stopped to find out what other people had to say. When people became frustrated with my, I learned about insecurity. I was insecure in who I was, and I felt I had to prove myself to the world through all that I knew and had to share. I hadn’t learned a bit of wisdom.

He who has knowledge spares his words,
And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.
Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace;
When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive. Proverbs 17:27-28

My wonderful wife helped me truly come to understand the wisdom found in silence. She recognized that my effervescent conversations were driving people away. So she began to help me learn. She gave me confidence by encouraging me to share sparingly and let the power of listening and silence rule many of my conversations.

When we were in social situations where my mouth began to run away with me, she began to gently squeeze my knee, my arm, or my hand to help me recognize my overflowing mouth. It worked! I learned to close my mouth, open my ears, and focus on what others had to share.

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Through these experiences over the years, I have learned three principals for building understanding, wisdom, perception, and influence.

Listen Intentionally

Be in the moment. Focus on the person who is speaking. Look at them. Listen to their words. Engage with affirmative responses to let them know you are hearing what they are saying. Watch their facial expressions and body language. Find out what they have to say; capture the complete thought. Focus on the idea, don’t judge the delivery. Plan your response after they are finished speaking.

Seek Understanding

Listening is a journey of discovery together. Ask questions to increase clarity and understanding. Draw the speaker out with open-ended questions. Judge nothing, discern everything. Pay attention to how things are said to get a fuller picture of the message.

Encourage Others

Acknowledge what the speaker has said, even if you disagree. Use positive language. Affirm the person regardless of the message. Disagree respectfully; present differences graciously. Encouragement is the most powerful part of creating influence through listening!


When we focus on the individual, regardless of opinion or message, we create relationships and build opportunities to grow in understanding and wisdom for the future.

That is influence.

Do you want to impact your family, church, community, business? Do you want to change a generation to impact this earth for God’s kingdom?

Listen.

Love, Hope, and a Coming Victory

It was a training and proving ground. There was discouragement, setbacks, and challenges at every turn. But those are stories for another time, and they aren’t mine alone.

This is one such story of challenges and trials. It is also a story of love, hope, and a coming victory.

Over the years, we have faced health challenges that have seemed insurmountable. You see, from my precious bride’s youth, struggles with health issues began. It was actually one of the things God used to stir my heart toward her.

We had been in classes together at university. She thought I was obnoxious; I thought she was out of my league. Somehow, we began spending time together and getting to know each other. Then, one evening after going to a movie with some friends, God ignited something fierce inside of me.

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Just Engaged!

We were standing in the kitchen of her home, and she experienced an intense abdominal pain that doubled her over and brought her to her knees. She was so embarrassed, but it was one of God’s “suddenly” moments. I knew that I would do most anything to spend my life caring for her. I fell into something amazing—God’s compassion for her fired an intense compassion inside me as well. Over time and through other experiences, God brought us together as help-mates. It was exciting to find this treasure and know that adventures stretched before us!

Over the ensuing years, health challenges mounted for my bride. Doctor’s visits increased as we sought answers to symptoms, illnesses, and pain. General practitioners, every kind of specialist imaginable, nutritional health and naturopathy, and test after test; we’ve journeyed through it all with no real answers or permanent solutions.

During the course of this journey, doctors have diagnosed her with severe IBS, bipolar disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, auto-immune thyroid disease, fibromyalgia, uterine fibroids, bladder and uterine prolapse, colonic inertia (low-motive colon), redundant (or very twisty) colon, scoliosis, arthritis, spinal stenosis, 24/7 migraines, yeast in the blood with chronic infections, and hypotension. And there are still more results pending. It can all seem overwhelming, but the end result, the simple experience for my bride is pain.

Intense pain. Never-ending pain. Regularly debilitating pain.

She’s had procedures to “fix” some issues. She’s tried every medication imaginable. We’ve changed diet drastically and even “purged” the evil toxins of gluten and sugar for years! All of this has brought little to no relief at all.

Seven years ago, God began speaking in a very intimate and direct way to her. He spoke of a culmination and climax in all of these issues. He emphasized that no matter the apparent severity or any coming complications, He is her healer.

She began to pursue God more passionately for answers that doctors couldn’t find and that their practices couldn’t solve. I would come home from work only to find she had been shut in her closet for hours in praise and worship before the throne of God. She radiated with His presence. It was palpable, and it transformed how we thought and behaved.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2

Through this transformation, she was healed of bipolar disorder. It is completely gone. With the counsel and assistance of her psychiatrist, she stopped all treatment for the disorder. She has never gone back. I have never seen my bride so positive and confident since she has been set free from this mental oppression and saturated with His presence.

This past year, though, has been the most difficult by far. The pain has intensified—really intensified. She is almost completely bed-ridden. She has a hard time keeping weight on due to nausea and poor digestion. We use a wheelchair when we must go out because she experiences severe dizziness and balance issues. She’s begun slurring her words and forgetting things regularly.

Yes, it seems bleak, but despite all this, we have not lost hope. Our hope is in Him. He is where our help comes from.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

Although my beloved has been diagnosed with a host of issues, they neither define nor explain who she is. They only show what she is journeying through. My bride’s story is unfinished, and yet to be gloriously completed by God.

Our hope is in the Maker of heaven and earth; Jehovah Rapha—the Great Physician and her healer. He is our miracle maker.


The Start of a New Adventure

Well, here I am, beginning a new journey in the life for which I was purposefully created.

After a 20-year career in the U.S. Air Force, I have embarked on the life I was called to at a young age. I retired from service to my country in April of 2015 and started a journey of service to the King of Kings at the very same time.

The story, however, is a little more complicated than that… isn’t it always?

I heard Jesus calling me to be a minister and to take care of His flock (John 21). I was 17 when it happened. I was purposed for Kingdom work! I was called. I was marked.

I was lost.

I had no mentors and didn’t yet know how to still myself to hear from God clearly. So, I made a lot of life decisions on my own. I sought council but didn’t really get good input from many I asked. I did get some good advice from my grandfather about a college to attend. I caught a glimpse of the first stepping stone; Grand Canyon University with a Christian Studies major!

That lasted as long as my first class in Church History. It was dry. It was dull. It was about a bunch of dead guys, and it was boring. I was lucky to finish with a D.

I was a bomb. What was I doing? I certainly didn’t belong there. I made a huge mistake!

So, I changed my major to Drama. Oh yeah, definitely a good choice. A perfect fit for a quirky personality. Who needs advice? Not me! It was definitely a leap with both feet.

But you see, God doesn’t make mistakes. He has a purpose for me. Regardless of where I turned or what I do, He never leaves me. He is always working out His plan for my life.

And that was when I met her. It was like I had known her my whole life. She was kind and full of compassion. She was passionate and dramatic. She was made for me and I for her. She was, and still is, amazing! Of course, that meant I needed a job to support my beautiful bride and new family. College was just going to have to wait for a little.

02. Military 1995So, I enlisted in the Air Force. The military had always been good to my family. I was third-generation. It was kind of a family tradition. They had good benefits with some pay. And it was only temporary, right? Until I could get settled and move into my purpose in ministry.

The years came and went. Our family grew by three more. But God didn’t release us from military service. It was a training and proving ground. There was discouragement, setbacks, and challenges at every turn. But those are stories for another time, and they aren’t mine alone.

After 20 years, and a revitalization of the call to ministry and our faith, God allowed us to quit our service to the kingdoms of this world. He has called us onward into a renewed purpose in His kingdom. And we are stepping out, boldly, into that for which He has purposed us.

This is the beginning of our new path. This is the start of a new adventure.