Listening with Care

I am a task oriented and goal setting person in life and in work. I hate down time. I hate being overly early to meetings, as I could have gotten that ‘one more thing done’. My life operates by moving from one task to the next. To be honest, in my conversations I am more of a person of “give me the facts” or “give me the information I need and let’s move on”. This is both good and bad.

It is good in that I’m able to accomplish the things I need to accomplish. It is good because it keeps me motivated and moving. It is good…

Yet it is bad, you see because I am so task oriented, I can inadvertently come across as cold and uncaring. Cold and uncaring is not me, but because I’m constantly moving from one task to the next it is difficult for me to slow down, much less stop, and truly listen to others. This is a lesson I’m constantly having to learn and relearn and relearn again. This is a lesson I am and have struggled to perfect. This is a lesson that affects so much of life. It affects my marriage relationship with my wife. It affects my relationship with my children. It affects my relationship with my friends. It affects my ability to lead.

When it comes to leadership, the lesson I’m learning is leading is as much about relationship with those you lead as it is about accomplishing the goal. It is and must be a both/and. It is foolish to try to accomplish a goal through leadership without investing in the relationships with those you lead. For me and maybe for you, this all comes down to truly listening. To stopping and truly hearing someone out.

Here are the questions I working through now and maybe questions for you to work through as well.

  1. Am I making the people I have relationships with and those I lead feel valued and important?
  2. Am I creating enough margin in my day to slow down and truly listen? For me without this margin, I simply race from one task to the next with little time in between.
  3. Am I truly listening before I think of responses?



I love to “People Watch”. It is an experiment of observation for me. A way to see people and watch their behaviors, their demeanors, and their reactions. I’ve noticed several things, one is people love relationships with other people or to put it another way people love to be in community. People love to talk and spend time with others. They love to meet and spend time around a lunch table or for a coffee. They love to spend time in community.

I catch people sitting alone at a table and their whole demeanor is unremarkable, if not a little downcast, yet when they see someone they recognize or their friend arrives for lunch their whole demeanor changes. You can see they lift their head higher, their shoulders become more open, their feet become more active, there appears a smile on their face, and their attitude become more bubbly.

Think about it this way with all the different social medias such as Facebook or how people are constantly checking, talking, and typing away at their iPhones. Relationships. Community.

I don’t think the need or the desire for these relationships/community with others can be over stated. We as human beings are relational. It doesn’t matter the time or the place or the circumstances, people are relational and love to be in relationship.

What about community in the church? We talk about community in the church often, we see articles and books written about community in the church, yet for some reason so often we miss the boat. Making this sad and shocking is that the church should be a natural place for community not Starbucks or the local diner. I’m not saying that community or those relationships have to always be in the church, but that the church should be the significant place where people connect. It is from these relationships or these connections that people encourage, challenge, and support one another. Where is the down fall for churches? Obviously, intentionality has to be mentioned. The church and church leaders must be intentional about setting up environments where people connect and those relationship are established. I believe also that the church has focused too much on perfection in programs or polish in the services or pious professionalism in it’s leaders. People are looking for the real. Real problems and real people. A place where leaders and the people are willing to admit they don’t have it all together. A place where people can be flawed.

People are looking for community and as the church we must position ourselves to be the place where community happens and where community starts.