Do people know you as empathetic and caring? Do they feel they are being heard? Do people under your leadership honestly believe you are a great listener? 

Empathy doesn’t come easy to all of us – but there is good news! I want to share a simple shift you can make to become more intentional and effective in your community. Let’s talk about what it takes to move from being a talker to a listener and how to integrate that with a spiritual foundation that empowers you and the people you coach to abide in Christ.

Most leaders natural tendency is to talk rather than listen. As a leader, it can be tempting to always provide an answer, to fill silence with advice or stories, or share every drop of wisdom that has been gained through years of experience. However, as much as new disciples and emerging leaders learn through your experience, they will learn much more through their own experience. Of course, part of being a leader is explaining, sharing and advising, but the best leaders coach people they are developing by  spending more time listening than they do speaking. 

Goal: To help leaders stop speaking and begin to listen. 

Why is it important to listen? 

  • You can only understand the needs of the disciples or leaders you are coaching by creating the space that allows them to share their struggles, ask questions, and process their thoughts/emotions 
  • You create trust by refraining from instructing, judging, or offering advice, and allow the disciples and leaders you are coaching more agency to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes. 
  • You empower the disciples and leaders you are developing to become better listeners themselves through your example. 
  • You create the space that allows your disciples to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit more clearly and rely on God’s direction. 
  • You talking gives opportunity for the disciples and leaders you are developing to  “tune-out”
  • You listening redirects the focus from yourself and puts the focus on the other person and ultimately, God!

(c) Gary B Reinecke, 2023 – for use with permission only

3 Mini-shifts to become a better listener:

  • Take the posture of a learner. You must believe that God speaks to the disciples and leaders you coach just as He does to you. 
  • Remain silent. Challenge the disciples and leaders you coach to push their thoughts further by inviting the Holy Spirit to speak. 
  • Be patient. Give the disciples and leaders you coach time to form their own opinions and to arrive at the place God wants to take them.

Real-Time Actions:

  • Summarize. Without interrupting, reiterate the main points of what your disciple has said back to them. This lets them know you understand them and gives them the opportunity to correct you and explain themselves in more depth.
  • Ask the disciple, “Is there more?” After a person shares their thoughts out loud on an issue, see if there is more that they need to process.

Take a moment to reflect on this shift from talking to listening. What new insights do you have about yourself as a coach? 

Reflection Questions: 

  • Do I speak more or listen more? 
  • Do my disciples feel heard by me? 
  • What would my disciple want me to ask them? 

Key Question: How can I ignore my tendency to share my wisdom and seek to listen?

Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash


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