Lessons in Encouragement | Listen

If encouragement is loosely defined as “offering someone hope, support, or confidence” then what does that look like?

What does “encouragement with skin on” look like?

One simple idea is to just listen.

lessons in encouragement

If you want to provide encouragement, listen.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote

“A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud.”

We all need those kind of friends in our life.

Sometimes, the very act of listening while someone works out a problem for themselves is incredibly useful. They don’t need advice, they don’t need feedback. All they really need is to listen.

"A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud."

Really listen.

Put down the phone. Turn off the television or radio. Close the lid of the laptop. Turn and face them and listen with your whole body.

“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” –M. Scott Peck

When silence happens, let it. Sit there in the silence and give your friend time for thoughts to form.

Listen.

Drink in their words.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said” –Peter Drucker

If you want to be an encourager, learn to listen.

Listening is an amazing gift.

It’s an incredible way to offer someone support.

God is the perfect encourager.

In part, that is because God Listens.

When I pray, God is someone with “whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud.”

“let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” — Hebrews 10:22

When I talk to God, he really listens.

“Evening and morning and noon, will I pray, and cry out aloud and He shall hear my voice.”–Psalm 55: 17

In prayer, God hears my heart. Even when I can’t exactly put it into words. He is there, “hearing what isn’t said.”

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” — Psalms 139:23

 What do you think? Is listening easy or it something you struggle with?

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encouragement happens when we listen

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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Comments

  1. "Put down the phone. Turn off the television or radio. Close the lid of the laptop. Turn and face them and listen with your whole body."

    That is so rare today, it seems. Yet that's what we crave. Someone to pay attention. I'm glad we have a perfect Father who gives us his undivided attention anytime we want to talk. And I pray that I can follow his good example, even when it's inconvenient.

  2. "Put down the phone. Turn off the television or radio. Close the lid of the laptop. Turn and face them and listen with your whole body."

    That is so rare today, it seems. Yet that's what we crave. Someone to pay attention. I'm glad we have a perfect Father who gives us his undivided attention anytime we want to talk. And I pray that I can follow his good example, even when it's inconvenient.

  3. Amen! Listening is 100% the beginning to a great friendship, and of course, encouraging others. Thanks for the great post!

  4. Listening without thinking we need to provide solutions but rather, as Mr. Emerson suggests, letting others think out loud is a gift to those we love.

    • I’d always heard the Emerson quote as “a friend is someone before whom I can think aloud.” It wasn’t until I started to write this post that I actually looked it up and read Mr Emerson’s words. The full quote (from his Essays: First Series according to Goodreads) is heavy reading.

      “A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud. I am arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal, that I may drop even those undermost garments of dissimulation, courtesy, and second thought, which men never put off, and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness with which one chemical atom meets another.”

  5. This post practically wrote itself. (shh! don't tell). I was thinking about the times I've been in need of encouragement and what friends did that I found the most helpful. Most often, it was just sitting and listening while I poured out my heart and thought aloud.

  6. Lynnae, I was thinking about what our kids learn in preschool and early elementary. Frequently, the teacher will use the phrase "listen with your whole body" – meaning to sit still and make eye contact. The phrase paints a great picture of fully listening.

    We all crave THAT kind of listening. Like you I'm thankful that our heavenly Father listens so well.

  7. Barbara Rider Deatherage says:

    I do practice listening because as a quiet person I recognize how important listening is. I am not the kind of person to jump into a conversation in a group of people and will usually just be quiet and listen. One time I was at dinner with a group of talkative people. As usual I was quiet until the man beside me turned to me and deliberately asked my opinion of the topic being discussed. He listened intently as I answered. He is a listener.
    On the other hand, I have a friend who has no idea how to listen. Instead she is always thinking about what she would like to say next. Even though I love her, I don't often share deeper feelings with her because I know she won't hear me.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Barbara I have both kinds of friends (talkers and listeners). I think we NEED both in our lives. When I need to think aloud, I seek out my listening friends, not the talking ones. I do my best to be a balance of the two. When I’m with those who are quiet observers, I do my best to make space for them to speak. I’ve learned that when I slow down and listen, they invariably have something worth hearing.

  8. “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” –M. Scott Peck

    So much good in this post. Thank you.

  9. Barbara I have both kinds of friends (talkers and listeners). I think we NEED both in our lives. When I need to think aloud, I seek out my listening friends, not the talking ones. I do my best to be a balance of the two. When I’m with those who are quiet observers, I do my best to make space for them to speak. I’ve learned that when I slow down and listen, they invariably have something worth hearing.

  10. Thanks Wendy. That quote has stuck with me. I think I may need to make it the wallpaper for my iPhone. Perhaps that would help me remember to unglue my face from it and LISTEN to my kids.

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