The Power of Listening: Creating a Sanctuary

When a friend comes to me with something to share, I try to give her my undivided attention.  But after a few minutes, I often find my mind wandering and thinking of other things…my to-do list, the next meal I need to cook for my family, my response to her situation. 

The pattern of my listening involves a lot of “me” thinking and not enough “other” thinking. Sound familiar?

Join me today as we journey through the what, the where, and the how of active listening. Challenge yourself to offer the sanctuary that comes when we fully open our ears, mind and hearts to others in His name.

Creating a Safe Haven

Listening is the oldest and perhaps the most powerful tool of healing. It is often through the quality of our listening and not the wisdom of our words that we are able to effect the most profound changes in the people around us. When we listen, we offer with our attention an opportunity for wholeness. Our listening creates sanctuary for the homeless parts within the other person. That which has been denied, unloved, devalued by themselves and others. That which is hidden.”

~Rachel Naomi Remen

Define listening…

  • Listening is a gift of acceptance.

Romans 15:7 (NIV)

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

  • Listening requires a sacrifice of self.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.


  • Listening is an act of caring.

Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

  • Listening brings Godly results.


Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

  • Listening blesses the speaker and the listener.


Proverbs 11:25 (ESV)

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

Explore active listening…

 “Pay attention and gain understanding.” (Proverbs 4:1b, NIV)

Listen with your eyes:

Read body language (yours and theirs).

Focus on the speaker.   Position yourself in an open, receptive stance

Make appropriate eye contact.   Invite the speaker to share.

Interpret nonverbal messages.   Notice mirroring behaviours.


Listen with your ears:

Receive the story with eagerness.

Stop talking!   Remove distractions.

Concentrate.   Be patient and allow moments of silence.

Listen for key concepts.   Give attention to language, voice, and tone.


Listen with your mind:

Restate and ask open-ended questions.

Put other things out of your mind.   Actively seek understanding.

Paraphrase periodically.   Clarify through questioning.

Stay on topic.   Never assume.


Listen with your heart:

Reflect with empathy.

Examine your motives.   Affirm.

Lay judgement aside.   Keep responses unemotional.

Try to understand speaker’s point of view.   Hold your advice.

Act as an instrument of God’s love.

Assess yourself as a listener…

  • How do you rate?

Reflect on your ability to perform the Active Listening behaviors above.

Rank your ability: 1-poor, 2-fair, 3-good, 4-very good, 5-excellent

Example: Ability to stay focused on the speaker. 4

Ability to notice non-verbal messages. 3

  • What has this self-assessment revealed to you?

Challenge yourself to be a better listener today!!

Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), 98-99.


5 responses to “The Power of Listening: Creating a Sanctuary

  1. Oh what excellent teaching on the art of listening this is!! In particular, I love how It speaks of inner healing and creating a sanctuary. I am going to share it with the other ladies in my Bible Study. Thanks!


  2. Great post. I am sharing with my Bible Study. Thanks Glynda!


  3. Thanks, Barb. I pray that it will be well reveived and God’s divine purpose be served. I cherish the positive feedback!


  4. Glynda us analytic types struggle with this don’t we. Thank-you for the reminder; this is something I can work on :) Lots of Luv Vanessa


  5. Vanessa, Good to know I’m not the only one to struggle. Also good to know that we don’t have to rely on our own power to accomplish God’s will! Blessings to you, dear sister. g


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