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More than any generation before, millennials live out Jesus’ commandment to love others without prejudice or judgment. Yet, many millennials do not believe Jesus is who He says He is. After spending the weekend with my millennial children, I realize the only way to “affect” change is to listen and ask questions so we can understand their culture.
Communication is key
According to communication expert Stephen R. Covey , empathetic listening is the most critical principle in the field of interpersonal relations. I confess, when it comes to having spiritual conversations with my kids, I often rush in with my own opinions and contradictions before getting to the root of their unbelief. But, this time, we both leaned in to listen and learn why we believe what we believe and discovered, we aren’t as far apart as I once thought!
With our country and its people under unprecedented duress, seeking first to understand, then to be understood is imperative. Sadly, we often react rather than respond when we hear something that doesn’t align with what we believe, especially in conversations with those closest to our hearts.
As ambassadors for Christ we have a responsibility to exercise caution and intention with our words. Otherwise, we risk reacting based on our emotions and assumptions, which does not represent the truth. In other words, we become like modern-day Pharisees who create a wider gap because what we say we believe is contradicted by how we behave.
Although I still have much to learn, here are a few of the things that helped me connect with my kids so that we felt comfortable enough to lean in and listen to each other:
- Frame your words so they express what God has done and is doing in my life, rather than preaching about why the other person needs to change BEFORE they can know God. (Thank you, Heather and Ashely Holleman, for this great tip from Sent!)
- Remove the “debate” approach, make it clear that you are not trying to change or convince, but passionately speak about the most important and enjoyable aspect of your life!
- Who is their “God?” What person or object to they seek to supply the power to bring to fruition the things they ask for; the things they need?
- Ask thought-provoking questions like:
- What benefits does what you believe bring to your life
- Does it affect change and make your life experiences better?
What does the Bible teach us about listening?
- Proverbs 1:5 ESV  Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,
- Proverbs 18:13 ESV  If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
- Proverbs 19:20 ESV  Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
- Proverbs 19:27 ESV  Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
- Proverbs 25:12 ESV  Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
- Matthew 11:15 ESV  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
- James 1:19 ESV  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
- Hebrews 12:14 ESV  Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord
Sending peace, love, and prayers to all!