In my continuing quest to become a better listener, to God and to others, God speaks to me in different ways. It’s been really good for me to have quiet time with God. Set aside time where I am just still and listen. Not talking to God, about me or other people. Not, feeling virtuous because I’m praying for others (talking the whole time I’m praying and not letting God get a word in edgewise is not good listening), not, I’ll see what I can tell God about what I’m reading in the Bible today. Nothing. Just training myself to sit, to listen…nope, that’s mind talking…Shhhhh…Stop..Nope..SHHHHHH. That kind of listening. Assuming a posture of stillness, not going by my own agenda, and just…waiting and listening. It’s hard not to want to hurry God up, sometimes. But in those moments when I am still and submissive, I can feel his presence, waiting for me to be ready to hear from him.

I learn a lot about listening in those moments. I heard something interesting today during that time. It had to do with how I was listening today. Now, when I’m excited about something I really like talking about it. I met with some friends today so they could show/tell me about a great idea they had. It was a great idea and I got really excited about it. And I realized something. I can be totally inspired by an idea, hear something great, and in my excitement, stop listening. Right there, idea in, mouth moving. Have you ever been or been in the presence of someone like that? Where you had a great idea and wanted to talk it out with someone and felt that they started to run with it apart from you? I have been that person and have been with that person.

Now my motives weren’t bad, and I don’t think I went so far as to steal another person’s thunder but God did use this to speak to me about listening. When you’re talking, you’re usually not listening. Simple, I know, but even if you’re on topic, passionate about something, if you’re talking about your own ideas you don’t leave yourself open to learn what others may have to contribute. This is important in relationships with other people but I started to think “Am I doing this with God?” Are there ways that I’m so excited about him, so ready to serve, so ready to be a part of his big idea that I forge ahead and forget the source of the inspiration? How many times do we feel like God’s leading us in a direction, get a good head of steam and look back and wonder, where was God in that?

When I was pondering this a phrase came to me. “It’s not yours, its mine”. Hmmm. God to me saying that HE is the origin of ministry, of movement, of inspiration, not me. It was said more gently than it may sound but really, if I’m not listening to God all during a process upon which he has set me, am I taking over where God should lead? Now I’m not saying that God doesn’t inspire us and we go forth, but there are times in my life where I’m doing and talking and rushing along a path God has set me and realize that I haven’t consulted with God for a very long time. That I haven’t sat with him in quiet submission, and asked the question “What do you think/want/see/desire, God and what do You want me to do?”

Humbling. Realizing you haven’t been listening is humbling. Realizing that you’ve been talking with your mouth full in your excitement and looking across the table realize that you’ve taken over someone’s dream. That you’ve taken something, taken an opportunity where you could learn and grow and made it about you. Not maliciously, but maybe ignorantly?

I’m learning that there is humility in listening. Not listening in the way that you’re waiting for a break so you can speak, but listening to learn, to grow, to follow, to get on board and support but not lead. I’m learning that there is more growth in listening because I’m making myself open and available to new ideas, new movement, new inspiration, from God and from others.