Friday Devotional: Two Ways to Listen

08 Oct

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LUKE 8:49-50 (NIV) | “While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ he said. ‘Don’t bother the teacher anymore.’ Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.’”


“I’m hoping you all won’t be burdened by our stress!”

This came from a pastor’s wife who was struggling in communication with her husband as I set up an appointment to meet with them. At the time, she did not know that it is a great honor for my husband and me to come alongside them, creating a safe space for them to share with one another and work on their “stuff.” It is not a burden. We love it.

As marriage and ministry coaches, we have the privilege to walk the journey with Christian leaders, loving them, encouraging them, and equipping them to be healthy in their relationships and in their ministries. Obviously, we need to listen well. Jesus is not only our example, but he has—and continues to—work in us and refine us as listeners.

In these verses and in the larger passage, I am struck by the words Jesus actually heard and the nonverbal things that he deeply listened to as well. He heard the humility and desperation of a synagogue leader coming to ask for help amidst the crowd. He heard the pain and fear of a father faced with the potential loss of an only daughter. He heard the fragile faith of a heart wavering between hope and the impossible. He heard those crushing words that every parent dreads: “Your daughter is dead.” And he heard the messenger’s assumption that for Jairus to call upon Jesus when there was no hope would be a “bother.”

Jesus was not bothered or troubled or burdened by what he heard. Rather, he responded to the tenuous trust, had compassion, and gave hope. He walked alongside Jairus and then healed his daughter.

In Matthew 7, Jesus describes another kind of listening—a much more destructive kind—when he says, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Clearly, dogs and pigs are not good listeners!

But this kind of listening is much too common. Most of us have experienced the feelings of hurt and betrayal when our stories have been trampled on and someone has torn us to pieces. Thankfully, in our own messy marriage journey, we had people who were tender and loving in listening to us. They gave us hope and practical help that led to our healing and restoration. They did not trample on our pearls.

I want to be that trustworthy for others—just like Jesus was with Jairus—to hold carefully the jewels that people entrust to me. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit for me to deeply pay attention, to set aside my agenda and my assumptions, to not get caught in my own triggered reactions, and to listen well. God forbid that I be a pig trampling somebody else’s pearls!


  1. Have you taken for granted the pearls someone has shared with you, or worse, trampled them? Ask Jesus what you can do about that to bring healing and restoration.
  2. How can you grow to listen more like Jesus? Consider one way you might learn to listen more attentively.
  3. What do you need Jesus to listen to in your own heart and life right now? How has he been paying attention to your sacred pearls?


This reading is a part of our "Small Feet Big Shoes" devotional series. You can also sign up to receive these meditations by email.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pam Taft and her husband, Mark, own a retreat center where they host pastors, missionaries, and couples seeking rest, counsel, and renewal.

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The Art of Listening Well [Download]