The Difference between Hearing and Listening
Most would agree there is difference between hearing and listening. Before I started hunting, I thought the woods were a place of silence. I have since learned they are nosey, but you don't really notice until you listen.
Being a good listener will give you an adventure in life and increase your influence as a leader. People don't want to be heard; they desire to be listened to and understood. If you’ll take the time to listen, people will return the gift with their appreciation and trust. On the other hand, failing to listen can lead to tragedy.
A good example of this is found in 1 Kings chapter 12, with King Rehoboam. This new young king inherited a pretty good situation following his grandfather’s reign (King David) and father's reign (King Solomon). At this point Israel had subdued most of the surrounding kingdoms. They’d set up trade deals with other nations, bringing in great wealth. Israel was now experiencing relative peace in the land.
Yet, all was not perfect. Solomon had been a demanding king, placing heavy burdens on the people. When King Rehoboam traveled to the northern parts of his kingdom, leaders from Shechem met with him. They requested relief, “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us, and we will serve you” (1 Kings 12:4, NRSV). Rehoboam heard their plea and sought counsel.
First, he spoke with the older, experienced leaders in his kingdom. Their advice is recorded in 1 Kings 12:7, NRSV, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.”
Next, he spoke to his peers, younger inexperienced leaders. Here is their counsel: “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you must lighten it for us,’ thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. Now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions’” (1 Kings 12:10,11, NRSV).
Unfortunately, King Rehoboam listened to the wrong people and made the following announcement. “‘My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions’” (1 Kings 12:14, NRSV).
This resulted in the kingdom of Israel splitting in half. It was the beginning of Israel’s rebellion against God, bondage to foreign nations and eventual devastation—all because a new young king did not listen (to the right people) (1 Kings 12:15).
The moral of the story: If you desire to make a positive impact in life, make sure you’re actively, carefully and completely listening to people, especially the right people.
Great leaders are great listeners.