Too many people go about serving without listening first. They dive in doing what they think needs to be done without really knowing if they’re hitting a point of real need or not and without knowing if what they’re doing is truly effective. As Carl George has said, “Help is not help unless it is perceived to be helpful.”
Listening—indispensable for true ministry—is both a practice and a skill. It is a practice in the sense that you must intentionally set about doing it. It is a skill in the sense that you can continually study its dynamics and learn to do it better. How do we practice listening and hone our skills?
Here’s who we need to listen to in order to serve well:
- The people we want to serve: they are the people best positioned to tell us about their needs, hopes, fears, and desires—we need to know them.
- Other leaders who are already serving in this area: don’t start from scratch when others have already been serving here—find out what they have already learned.
- The Holy Spirit: there is someone who knows the needs of people more intimately than those who serve or those who receive service—practice listening prayer.
Only once we have listened can we truly serve.