Listen with compassion


To simply sit and listen to someone is often the most compassionate gift we can give them.

It's a godly sacrifice because we singles can be self-centered. We want to talk and have someone acknowledge us. When you spend most of your time talking to your cat or dog or television, it's easy to go on nonstop when you're with a real, live human. But resist that temptation.

Listen to the other person instead. Even married friends need to pour their heart out to someone besides their spouse. In fact, their problems with their spouse may be something they want you to hear.

Listen but don't judge

Sometimes your friend is looking for advice, but often they just need to say things aloud so they can get them straight in their own mind. When we reflect on our problems, we think in incomplete sentences. Our mind wanders. Our prejudices block simple solutions.

Listen without expressing your opinion. Let the other person talk. Don't interrupt. After the whole matter has been explained, you can offer a comment, but don't think your friend necessarily needs you to solve her problem for her. Your job is not to be an amateur psychologist but to be a friend.

Speaking as a man, I find it hard to listen. My instinct is to try to solve the person's problem, and I think most men act that way. Women, on the other hand, tend to talk things over more. I have to exercise patience when I listen and suppress my need to jump in and be Mr. Fix-It.

Don't judge. If the person has seriously strayed from God's desires for them, their guilt or anxiety will be obvious. Don't excuse ungodly behavior but don't act superior.

We all make mistakes. If your friend confides in you, consider that a sacred trust. Do not betray them. However, if they are contemplating suicide or harming another, encourage them to get professional help. Some situations are beyond our capabilities.

The precious gift of time

Of all the presents you can give someone, your time is the most valuable. We all feel so rushed today, overbooked and running from one thing to another. Busyness has become an epidemic.


Empathy is a Christlike quality. To simply listen to a hurting person brings a kind of healing. It takes concentration and focus.

Personally, my mind tends to wander when I'm speaking, let alone when another person is. This skill takes effort. Watch the person's body language and facial expressions.

If they start to cry, don't be embarrassed or let them feel self-conscious. Crying is one of God's gifts to help us heal. It's one of the most honest things we can do. If you start crying with them, it's okay. Remember how Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus?

It's a great compliment when another person trusts you enough to open their heart to you. God is giving you an opportunity to ease that person's pain. Be humble in your response.

Listen with grace and love. Jesus uses his followers as his hands and feet, eyes and ears. Maybe someday you will need that person to listen to you.

Food for Thought is a series of short, tightly focused messages to get you thinking about your life. 

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