Sunday, January 25, 2009
Listening: The Best Advice One Can Give
The other day a young man and I started chatting on the computer. Though he does not attend our church, I have known him for many years and he attends a church in a nearby town. He had been going through some difficult times and had written some songs that expressed the pain he was feeling. When I read the lyrics, I knew that he needed to talk to someone about what he was feeling, so I engaged him in conversation. He had a lot to say, and my heart ached to know he was in such pain. There was a time when I would have quickly given him several words of advice about how he could "fix" his problem. But as I have come to understand young people more completely, I have come to the realization that sometimes the best "advice" you can give them is to simply stay quiet and listen. So I listened to what he had to say. At times I asked questions to clarify in my own mind what he meant. As the conversation unfolded, the questions I asked him also helped him clarify his own feelings. Toward the end of the conversation I did make a suggestion or two for him to think about, though I made it clear to him that he was the only one that really knew his own feelings, so ultimately he would have to sort out his own thoughts. I made sure he knew I was ready to listen more when he was ready to talk more. He seemed to really appreciate the exchange. I think the fact that I listened helped him a lot more than me giving him an hour long lecture about how he might deal with his problems. Listening; sometimes its the best advice you can give a young person.