FEATURED ARTICLE: THE LOST LIFE OF LISTENING

A couple weeks ago, we explored a needed Christian virtue: humility. This week’s featured article takes a look at a common vice: pride, or what the Latin fathers called Superbia. Author Paul J. Pastor believes pride to be the defining vice of our age. In an article in ChristianWeek, he defines pride not (only) as a nose-in-the-air type of attitude, but also as self-obsession. Many of us are tempted to think about ourselves so much (whether good thoughts or bad) that we miss what’s going on in the lives of those around us.

We might expect the antidote to pride to be a dose of humility. Perhaps it is. But Pastor believes another important corrective can be found in the practice of listening — of being truly attentive to another person.

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As I look around our world, and indeed within my own often-dark heart, I am convinced that listening is the needed thing. Nothing can replace it, nothing can give a short cut to it.

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Pride makes true attentiveness impossible. And in the reverse, true attentiveness sends pride fleeing like shadows before a floodlight.

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To listen requires us to set aside our view of ourselves as the unrecognized expert or the one of right opinion. To listen requires a measure of personal security that few of us have. To listen, in short, requires love, and love must be learned from the Great Lover.

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In fact, listening to others begins with listening to God:

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Listening was, you remember, the one command given to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration:

A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” (Luke 9:35 (NIV)

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[A]s deeply as I believe anything, I believe this: if we cannot listen to God, we cannot know him. Know about him? Sure! But know him? Never without presence, never without quieting out hearts and turning to him in humility. It is in listening to God that we learn the skill that can be salt and light to our world.

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In short: listening can help us be superb while letting go of Superbia.

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