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  • Writer's pictureJohn Whitehead

Hearing and Listening

There is a lot of noise in our world today and it seems to be getting louder and louder. No matter what we do, we cannot escape the noise all around us.

The challenge this creates is since many don’t feel their voice is being heard, they raise it and before we know it, the whole world seems to be shouting at one another. It’s as if we have lost our ability to hear. Or perhaps we have simply reached a point where we refuse to listen.

You see, “hearing and listening” are two completely different things. I know there are times where I hear someone, but I am most definitely not listening to what they are saying. If I am completely honest, this is happening more and more as time goes by.


Maybe I am too busy focusing on myself and the things and issues I am passionate about. Or perhaps I don’t really want to hear anyone who disagrees with me. I am afraid this is closer to the truth than it should be.

It appears we have become people who have lost the ability to understand, the difference between,“hearing and listening”.

One of the main reasons is, many of us truly like the sound of our voices. Many others feel what they have to say is more important than what someone else has to say. In both cases, we are devaluing others by not taking the time to listen to what they have to say.

As a younger man I was much more eager to talk than I was to listen. In truth, I just felt my views and opinions were more important than those of other people. Today, I have learned if I will take the time to not just hear, but to listen to someone else, I will broaden my perspectives and develop a better understanding of theirs.

As with everything in life, “hearing and listening” is a choice I must make. The reality is the effects of that choice are far more impactful than I could have ever imagined.

Having people in our lives who have different views than we do should not cause us to raise our voices. It should entice us to tone down our own rhetoric and hear and listen with the intention of learning. Not just learning about someone else but learning about ourselves too.

“Hearing and listening” are two simple words with profound meanings. The question is do we care enough to do either?

I suppose those around us will answer those questions for us. If we are willing to not just hear, but to listen to what they are telling us.

James 1:19, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

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