Posts Tagged ‘George Hendley’

The Art of Listening

January 6, 2012

Without question, there is a difference between "hearing" and "listening." Ask any parent, including God, the ultimate Father.

Recently while teaching an oral communication class, I recognized the application of the principles of “listening” in a spiritual context. Part of the discussion centered on “hearing” vs. “listening,” which are not synonymous. According to author Hamilton Gregory, hearing is the process by which sound waves are received on the ear; the sense by which sound is perceived. Hearing is passive. In contrast, listening should be active. “Hearing is with the ears; listening is with the mind,” says Keith Davis.

Listening is defined as the act of interpreting and evaluating what is being said. Author and coach George Hendley, notes that research has shown we spend 70-85% of our business day communicating in one form or another.  Out of that time we usually spend 45% listening; 30% speaking; 16% reading and 9% writing.  Most people believe that they are good listeners. Hendley points out that one of the biggest challenges with listening is the illusion that it is being accomplished, but unfortunately most of us listen at only 25% of our potential.

An interesting piece of information regarding listening is found with Chinese calligraphy and the characters for the verb “to listen” which consists of pictures of the ear, the eye, and the heart.

In Chinese calligraphy the verb "to listen" involves more than just the ear but the eyes and most importantly, the heart.

As Christian believers we are very much concerned about hearing the voice of God and listening to hear what He has to say to us, both by the revealed Word of God or the Bible and by our personal relationship God via the Holy Spirit whereby we commune with God. We place our ears near to the lips of God and listen attentively as He speaks. Our desire is to perfect the art of listening when it comes to God. An art involves performing something over and over until you master whatever you are attempting to do. You practice until you excel to become an “artist” in whatever area you choose to develop. I poetically express my personal desire for more intimate communication with God and see God’s desire that I perfect “the art of listening” in this way:

The Art of Listening                           

God has something to say to you,

 God has something to say.

 Listen, Listen, Pay close attention.

 God has something to say.

                     Children’s Song


      The Lord GOD has given Me
   The tongue of the learned,

   That I should know how to speak
   A word in season to him who is weary.
   He awakens Me morning by morning,
   He awakens My ear
   To hear as the learned.

   The Lord GOD has opened My ear;
   And I was not rebellious,
   Nor did I turn away.

                        Isaiah 50:4-5


Listen, listen, my son: hear with the inner ear.

Tune your ears to hear in the center of your heart.

I will whisper cherished secrets as you come near.

To listen intently and obey is an art,

Practiced and perfected day by day.

As you hide my Word in the center of your heart,

I perform and bring to pass each word that I say.

In my unfolding Kingdom, you too have a part,

For to walk in love is the more excellent way.

Partake of my promises and consume my Word.

As precious as life-giving water, hold it dear

And do my will, proving all things that you have heard.

Listen intently and obey: Perfect this art.

Listen, listen, my son: hear with the inner ear.


After completing the poem, I wrote the word “heart” on the board and asked what is in the center. The response was “ear” and then someone pointed out that the first four letters of heart is the word “hear.” Someone also pointed out that “heart” ends with the word “art,” indicating that when consistently hear with the inner ear of your heart, the end is an art. What an incredible epiphany at about 9 o’clock in the morning! Click on the following to see what I mean.


To read other articles related to the “art of listening” click below:

Inspired by I Samuel 3:9 “Speak, Lord. I am your servant and I am listening,”  this moving song makes a request: “Speak, Lord, Thy Servant Hears” in the following YouTube video: