A Word from Bob: You’re reading Part 10 in my blog mini-series on Half Biblical Ministry to the Suffering. The series was prompted by a yet-to-be-published work in the biblical counseling field that highlights truth-telling for people who are suffering, but seems to de-emphasize relationship building with those who are suffering. Based upon my biblical study and my study of the history of how the church has engaged with suffering brothers and sisters, it is my conviction that truth-telling and relationship-building must be combined for any counseling that desires to be considered comprehensively biblical. Here are titles/links to my first 9 posts:
- Half Biblical Ministry to the Suffering
- Counseling Without Loving Compassion
- Mingling Our Sufferings and Sorrows
- Job’s Miserable Counselors: How Not to Counsel
- Climbing in the Casket: Rich Soul Empathy
- 5 Marks of Compassionate Biblical Counseling
- 4 Christlike Characteristics of a Biblical Comforter
- Gospel Listening
- Listening to 5 Biblical Principles of Gospel Listening
Biblical Listening: LISTEN
We can use the acrostic “LISTEN” to remind ourselves of six basic components of competent gospel listening.
- L—Loving Motivation: Proverbs 21:13
- I—Intimate Concern: Galatians 6:1-3; Colossians 4:6; James 3:17-18
- S—Slow to Speak: Proverbs 18:13; James 1:19
- T—Timely Listening and Speaking: Proverbs 15:23; 25:11
- E—Exploratory Listening and Encouraging Speaking: Hebrews 3:7-19; 10:24-25
- N—Need-Focused Hearing: Ephesians 4:29
L: Loving Motivation
“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry and not be answered” (Proverbs 21:13). Relationally competent biblical counselors are motivated, like God, to listen for, hear, care about, empathize with, and respond to the hurts of the wounded.
Neither secular theory nor human curiosity drives careful listening. Care does. Concern does. Compassion does. Christ does.
I: Intimate Concern
Paul (Galatians 6:1-3; Col. 4:6) emphasizes the humble, spiritual, gentle, and gracious concern that ought to accompany spiritual listening.
James (James 3:17-18), in a context sandwiched between the use of the tongue and the cause of quarrels, explains that true wisdom for living flows from a heart that loves people and peace, a heart that is considerate and submissive, impartial and sincere.
S: Slow to Speak
James is quite emphatic. “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
Solomon explains why. “He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame” (Proverbs 18:13). As biblical counselors, we seek to hear our friends’ story so we can relate God’s story relevantly to our friends.
T: Timely Listening and Speaking
“A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23). “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).
“Apt” means fitting, timely, given in due season—words said at the right time, in the right way, for the right reason because of right listening.
E: Exploratory Listening and Encouraging Speaking
The author of Hebrews (Hebrews 3:7-19; 10:24-25) exhorts us to know and listen to our brothers and sisters so well that we can perceive their doubting, hardening, deceived heart.
Then our powerful words of encouragement will flow from accurate exploratory listening.
N: Need-Focused Hearing
To benefit others, biblical counselors listen for specific needs. “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” (Ephesians 4:29).
Biblical counselors ask, as we listen, “What is it that my friend most needs? What are his hurts and wounds? Her fears and scars? What wholesome words relate to my friend’s specific situation? Specifically, given his situation, what words will benefit him?”
More of the Story
Today’s principles from God’s Word come from my book, Gospel Conversations: How to Care Like Christ.
Join the Conversation
Which of the 6 LISTEN principles would most benefit your relationships and ministry?