I have been reading through the book Contemplative Youth Ministry by Mark Yaconelli. It has been refreshing and given me lots to pause and think about.
Today as I was reading about listening to students it struck me. My biggest failures in ministry thus far have not been dud games, or talks that failed. The moments that stick out in my mind were at church when someone talked to me and I got sidetracked and didn't listen to a student. Or another time when three students were trying to talk to me, and I got distracted by two of them, and the one that could have used a listening ear the most was drowned out.
I find it hard to hear everyone all the time. Part of it is due to the fact that I am hard of hearing anyways. I have never heard well all the time, and in rooms with lots of background noise I have a hard time filtering out everything. But there is something that makes it even harder to hear, not listening.
I may hear a voice and listen to the surface of what someone is saying, but I don't quiet my mind and my distractions to listen to what they are saying.
It's like when my wife and I are talking sometimes we get mixed up when the other person is talking about something, so we slow each other down and say "you heard my words but missed what I said".
Its like that with people in our lives, if we hear their words, but don't listen to what they said we mine as well have not heard them at all.
I think the biggest impact someone can make, and I am going to strive to make this week is to work on hearing everything someone is saying.