Posts Tagged ‘JumpStart3’

Hearing vs. listening: The art of listening

August 2, 2013

The Verse of the Day for August 2, 2014 is found in James 1:22. The same verse was the basis for a previous blog entry which I have re-posted below with the addition of a contemporary Bible Memory Song from JumpStart3 based on that verse.

James 1 22

The Verse for the Day from James 1:22 brought to mind a number of thoughts regarding the distinction between hearing and listening, as I thought of a discussion on “listening” in the public speaking class that I am currently teaching.

In discussing the communication process, we noted the difference between “hearing” and “listening.” Hearing and listening are not synonymous. Hearing is “the process by which sound waves are received on the ear; it is the sense by which sound is perceived.” We hear the ambient sounds that surround us without really paying any attention to the fan on the computer or the air conditioning or the ticking of the clock. On the other hand, listening is the act of interpreting and evaluating what is being said; it is an active activity that involves receiving, deciphering, and perceiving a message with intent to respond.  Hearing is passive, whereas listening should be active. Keith Davis comments, “Hearing is with the ears; listening is with the mind.”

In Chinese calligraphy, the character for “listen” consists of pictures of the ear, the eye, and the heart, illustrated in this way:


The discussion regarding hearing and listening also brought to mind that listening is an art that is perfected over time by conscious, consistent effort to improve. This is especially true in a spiritual context whereby believers must learn to listen to God. We find that God is always speaking; indeed, God is never not speaking. As we continually place our ears near to the lips of God, we develop our proficiency in listening to hear the Master’s voice, as we practice in order to perfect this art:

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.

Although I use this poem when I teach the section on listening in the oral communication classes that I teach, quite providentially,  I wrote the poem years before I started teaching these classes. When I first read the poem at a Bible study, someone pointed out that at the center of the piece is the word “heart” which encompasses hear, ear, and art, all of which reinforce the message, as illustrated in this way:

Hear with the heart

Without a doubt we must strive each day to become more proficient at developing the “art of listening.”

Listen to a contemporary Scripture Memory Song of James 1:22 offered by JumpStart3: