I got back last night from my visit to Seattle and Dallas. It was a great trip. I love both cities and have been to both enough times that I know my way around. In other words, I know where to shop, sleep and eat. It's halibut and crab season in Seattle, so the restaurants had some great fish specials.
It was great to reconnect with my friends at The Pacific Institute and to have dinner with my friend, Sheila Hunt from Arkansas, who attended their four-day seminar. I also had a chance to work with Tom Deuschle, my pastor friend from Zimbabwe, before he returns to Zimbabwe next Wednesday. And now I am back in Pittsburgh for a few days and spring is just around the corner.
If you do any reading or study concerning servant-leadership, you will know that listening is one of the key characteristics of an effective listener. Robert Greenleaf, father of the modern servant-leader teaching, wrote:
"Listening, coupled with regular periods of reflection, are essential to the growth of the servant leader . . . . The most successful servant-leaders are those who have become skilled empathetic listeners."
Stephen Covey wrote:
"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. . . . The essence of empathetic listening is not that you agree with someone; it's that you fully, deeply understand that person, emotionally as well as intellectually."
So how good of a listener are you? Part of the listening process is asking good questions that enable you to probe what someone is saying for hidden meaning and clarity. One of the most effective servant-leaders ever was Jesus. It's no surprise that He addressed the issue of listening when He taught. It's also no surprise that He regularly asked good questions.
In the next few posts, I want to look at some of what Jesus had to say about listening and study some of the questions He asked so that you can be a more effective listener. Sound good? I hope so.