Because of my introverted nature, I possess the strength of being an excellent listener. However, I have the weakness of not being that sympathetic towards other people’s problems. If something is bothering me, I might tell one other person, but I usually don’t tell anyone except Jesus. I rarely feel that I relate to what other people are going through. The following is an example of a time that I had to overcome those weaknesses but got to steward the gift of listening.
When I was in college, I had a friend who was an exchange student from a foreign country. She had just become a Christian a few months before coming to the university. Since she lived in the same dorm as I did, she asked me if she could stop by my room sometimes if she had questions about the Bible. I then asked if she wanted to do a more structured Bible study together so we could have a set time to read and discuss the same passages. She said would rather just stop by whenever she had questions. (I mention that because I like consistency and I don’t like improvising. I wanted to know ahead of time when she was going to come by. Also, when I read something, I want plenty of time to process the information before commenting on it.)
My friend was considerate and asked me what hours were good for her to stop by, so I let her know. Whenever she came by, I did stress out a little. I thought, “What if she asks me something I don’t know or haven’t read in a while?” However, it amazed me that almost every time she asked me questions about a verse, it would be about the same topic that I had recently read about or heard in a sermon.
One night, I felt the Holy Spirit say to stay up past my normal bedtime because my friend was going to come by. I didn’t have any more homework or studying to do, so I literally just sat there in silence waiting for her. After a while, I heard a knock and the door, and sure enough, it was her. She even asked me if she had woken me up because she knew it was late. When I asked her how her day was, she said, “Bad!” That really caught me off guard. That was the first time I had ever seen her unhappy.
She proceeded to tell me everything that was going wrong in her life, and I proceeded to listen for about an hour. When she was finished talking, I asked if I could pray for her. In my prayer, I mentioned a couple of scriptures that came to mind. My prayer was probably less than a minute long. After I prayed, she restated one of the scriptures, snapped her fingers and said, “That’s right.” She left with a more peaceful and encouraged countenance. Afterward, I realized God used me the way I needed to be used. I didn’t have to interrupt her, give advice, or tell her how to fix any of her problems. I simply listened and only said what I felt was necessary.
Proverbs 15:23 says, “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” I’d like to point out that it says “a” word, not “many” words or “all” words. It also says “in due season” meaning at the right time.
I honestly think the most powerful thing you can do for others is to listen to them and pray for them, especially if God gave you a more reserved personality.
Right before my friend went back to her home country, she said something to this effect, “I’m glad God gave me a friend like you because I talk a lot and you listen a lot.”