One passion in my life is to see people serve the Lord with their gifts and abilities. In talking to people, I am often confronted with the concern over a lack of talent. Many people just do not feel like that know enough or have the right skill set to serve the Lord in a productive way. Lately, I have noticed a ministry that requires little ability other than an open ear and a closed mouth. I call it the ministry of listening.
The need for this ministry becomes clear in conversations, in counseling and even in small groups. There are a large number of people who are just looking for someone with which to share their story. Yes, some people are looking for answers, but that number is limited. Most people know exactly what they should do, they have just not convinced themselves to do it. They want to talk it out. They do not want someone to give them advice, they just want someone to listen to them.
There is a great potential for ministry by simply taking the time to listen to people talk.
I know this is not a new concept to most of us. We understand it. The problem is that we are often way too busy to spend time in seemingly unproductive listening. I know this was true for me until one day I realized that it was not time wasted, rather time invested. Listening is investing in other people for the good of the kingdom of God.
Once you understand this idea as a ministry, then you should build extra time into your schedule. What would happen if you took an extra 15 minutes to actually listen to a co-worker share their struggles? What if you left 30 minutes completely free to listen to your spouse or children? How many lives could you touch for good simply by sitting quietly while other people talk? What would happen to your world if you took some time this day and over the next week to just listen?
I think you will find that listening is often far more influential than talking.