Adapting is what we are constantly called to do because there’s always a last-minute meeting called that bumps other meetings, or suddenly the inbox is flooded with must-do’s before the end of the day and it’s 4 pm. We’ve all been there. The importance of focus is an interesting one. Especially as an Executive Pastor, since we are all about the operations and strategies- reminding our staff and congregations on topics such as How to pay tithing online to say Thank you to Church Volunteers Online. Good. And, amidst all the meetings and reminders and checklists, we cannot lose touch with the fact that our focus should ultimately be about The Kingdom and how to draw people to the Lord. So, how do we start listening, to better focus on this?
How can we intentionally equip and engage others and focus on The Kingdom? Let’s rewind things just a bit and hone in on the fact that some of the very best leaders are active listeners- hear me out (no pun intended)- those who gain information and perspective by asking questions and leaning into the answers. Active listening is communicating to someone that you hear what they are saying so they feel heard, understood, valued, and are known. After all, we must take seriously our responsibility to listen to others and have confidence in our instincts as we filter through all the information.
Make the time to lead well as an active listener by:
- having good eye contact
- not interrupting
- asking questions showing genuine interest
- acknowledging them with feedback
I was looking through my commonplace book and found this excerpt from a 2014 blog entitled Six Lessons in Good Listening, and how well it summarized my above points in a concise way, “Good listening silences the smartphone and doesn’t stop the story, but is attentive and patient. Externally relaxed and internally active. It takes energy to block out the distractions that keep bombarding us, and the peripheral things that keep streaming into our consciousness, and the many good possibilities we can spin out for interrupting. When we are people who are quick to speak, it takes Spirit-powered patience to not only be quick to hear, but to keep on hearing.” Wow. Does this resonate with you as it did seven years ago and still does with me? It’s going to take time and discipline to be an active listener as it’s the opposite of our nature, but it is possible.
Have you ever heard the great analogy of the difference between being a sponge (a good listener) and a trampoline (an active listener)? A sponge absorbs and distributes when squeezed and wrung, versus a trampoline that brings height and energy to a conversation. Both have a proper time and place in our lives and conversations. I think a lot of our life can be spent like a sponge- filling the holes and expanding the size of our knowledge for self to enact and impart where a trampoline propels you to bounce ideas and move forward. The proof of active listening is in the pudding. You can better support your Pastoral team and the members of your church with knowledge and confidence to lead more effectively as active listening:
- Builds trust and strong relationships
- Helps to resolve conflict
- Prevents you from missing important information
- Enables you to identify and/or anticipate problems
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to his Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us his word but also lends us his ear. So it is his work that we do for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them. Christians….so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.”
Hope these blogs geared for Pastors encourage your entire Pastoral team. Whether you’re a Senior Pastor, Executive Pastor, Youth Pastor, Teaching, or Interim Pastor, we want to help you lead with best practices that are known and have proven beneficial for thousands of churches nationwide. Reminder, don’t miss any of our other Church Growth Resources that may help you, and you can easily receive our ministry blog posts straight to your inbox!
Pattie plays an integral role in key areas across ACS Technologies, including project management, business partnerships, operational excellence, and more. Pattie joined ACS Technologies in 1995. Before that, she worked in advertising and brand management leadership with Procter & Gamble. She also worked with Koinonia Partners, the birthplace of Habitat for Humanity. Pattie attends St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Florence, SC.