Servant Leadership…Listening!

[I will be out of town in a low internet reception area from Tuesday until late Thursday night. Their will be no post for Wednesday and I will be mainly off line. Thank you for being a continued reader and support]

It’s guest post Monday! This post is written by Micky Diaz who writes at Christian Living. You can connect with him on Facebook, which I highly recommend you do. If you would like to have a post featured on my site then click here.

Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. (Prov. 19:20)

The first aspect to being a servant leader is listening. Here is a summary of this principle:

Listening – Traditionally, leaders have been valued for their communication and decision making skills. Servant-leaders must reinforce these important skills by making a deep commitment to listening intently to others. Servant-leaders seek to identify and clarify the will of a group. They seek to listen receptively to what is being said (and not said). Listening also encompasses getting in touch with one’s inner voice, and seeking to understand what one’s body, spirit, and mind are communicating. 

Listening is a skill that very few people master successfully. I must admit, listening is somewhat of a challenge to me because I often become very outspoken when talking about a subject that I’m passionate about. I’m sure I’m not the first nor the last when it comes to this “struggle”. I have heard this saying a number of different times…

“Listen more…talk less. That’s why God gave us two ears and one mouth for.”

As comical as it sounds to us, there is an amazing amount of truth behind it especially as it relates to servant leadership. In the above summary on listening, it makes mention of how leaders have traditionally been valued for their communication and decision making skills. As important as it is for those skills to be constantly reinforced, we must always be mindful of constantly being able to listen to not only those around us, but equally (and sometimes more importantly) be able to listen to one’s “inner voice”.

From a christian’s perspective, how are we able to listen to “one’s inner voice”?

Great question as far as I’m concerned. Here are 2 thoughts that have come to my mind when it comes to listening to one’s inner voice.

1. PRAYER IS A MUST! –  Ideally, we want to begin and close our day in prayer. When we open our day in prayer, it provides us an opportunity to not only thank God for giving us a new day, which is great, but we give ourselves an opportunity to be able to listen to God more clearly as He maps out His plan for our day. The ability to listen is critical here! Simply put, if we fail to listen to God, you might as well expect all sorts of chaos to unfold throughout your day. When we end the day in prayer, we give ourselves an opportunity to be grateful for the day, the moment of prayer will also help us to reflect on what happened throughout the day as well as be able sleep a whole lot better too. Read Psalms 4.  Meditating in God throughout the day comes in handy too.

2. LISTEN TO OTHERS…AND LISTEN WELL! – The Bible tells us in Proverbs 24:6  that there is safety in the multitude of counselors. In my honest opinion, it is one thing to surround yourself with people that think they know what’s in your best interest. It’s a totally different ballgame altogether when you can surround yourself with like-minded individuals who is connected to the source of all wisdom, God Himself. I don’t know about you, but I really wanna get connected (and grounded) with like-minded people who are connected (and grounded) to God Himself. As a couple, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 will also come to mind. I’m sure there are plenty of other verses that can be found to apply the art of listening in other settings, such as a small group. The relationship between Jesus, the ultimate servant leader, and His disciples come to mind.

No matter what kind of environment we find ourselves in relationally, the ability to listen is extremely important if we are to be successful in our relationships no matter what kind of relationship we are in. On a more personal note, I’m extremely thankful to my heavenly Father for surrounding me with so many wonderful people that I can call friends (and counselors). I would not be the person that I am today without God using these individuals to refine, rebuke, and encourage me whenever I get to proud (self-righteous) or too down on myself (low-self esteem).

Question: What have you been able to achieve in your life as you have learned the art of listening to God and to others?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • One of the blessings of listening well has been that I’ve made less mistakes along the way. Not that I no longer make any mistakes (I do) but looking back, I can see the many pits and turns that God has saved me from. Great thoughts

    • Micky Diaz

      God is indeed gracious when we fail to listen from time to time. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! God bless you!…:-)

  • Tim Bonner

    I’m not religious, so prayer isn’t important to me, but I would certainly agree that listening to others is a must.
    If you don’t listen and actually take time to really hear what people are telling you, often it can cause resentment, bad feeling and you end up heading in completely the wrong direction.

    • Thank you for still reading the post even though it had a religious focus. It’s good to know when I do have religious posts people still gain something from it.

      Great points about listening. I agree, many negative things can happen if we don’t take time to listen. Thank you for reading and sharing.

    • Micky Diaz

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us Tim! I most definitely agree with your sentiment about listening to others who will really make a difference in our lives….:-)

  • Another great post, Dan! Leaders and influencers make a difference by meeting needs. We can’t know the needs we don’t hear or perceive, and it’s hard to do either when we aren’t listening in the first place.

    • Micky Diaz

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts Justin! The art of listening is a must no matter where we find ourselves…:-)

  • I used to be one of those people that was just waiting for someone else to finish speaking so I could add my clever and prideful two cents. People that don’t listen are full of themselves and wisdom isn’t part of their life yet. Listening has a way of making us wise. It means we’re actually respecting the person speaking even if we don’t agree with their point of view or perspective. Valuing others is what being a Christian is all about. I like the way this quote sums it up, (like Dan, I love a good quote!) “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care…” Excellent post.

    • Micky Diaz

      Great stuff Floyd and thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts with us my friend! Your comment couldn’t have finished with a better quote too. God bless!…:-)

    • Great perspective Floyd. When we listen to people, they actually think WE’RE smart for doing so.

      • Good point, Charles!

  • This is a tough lessons for leaders to learn. The “world” teaches that whomever makes the most noise is “first”. I’ve learned the truth, that real leaders lead from under-neath (below) others. From this posture they can identify and push people towards their destiny. That’s impossible to do until you LISTEN to their goals, dreams and desires.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • Micky Diaz

      I really appreciate your comment Charles because there are moments when I have the tendency to be outspoken about certain subjects that I’m passionate about. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts my friend!

  • Hi Micky, and Dan,
    Absolutely, listening is a skill that needs to be learned. We are not born with it and especially as small children we certainly don’t listen well. Children are naturally self-centered. Also most people are thinking about what they will answer when they listen to others and therefore are pre-occupied and missing a lot of what is being said.

    Although I thought I was a pretty good listener I noticed while reading the post I already was thinking about what to reply which proves the point of what I was saying earlier.

    All the best,
    Ilka

    • Micky Diaz

      Totally agree Ilka! You’re point is definitely noted. Thanks for reading and sharing as well….:-)

  • Great post Micky. Listening is definitely a lost art but it’s amazing what happens when we do listen. I think we have to explore the idea of being fully present, that’s true listening.

    • Micky Diaz

      So true Kimanzi! There’s do doubt that being present is key to being an effective listener. Thanks for sharing my friend! God bless!…:-)

    • Good points, great things happen when we do listen. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • If you can’t listen to God, how can you listen to others? This kept going through my mind as I read your post.

    I can ‘say’ I listen to God, but how I act and treat others will be evidence if I truly listen.

    Great post.

    Enjoy your time away Dan, we’ll still be here when you get back.

    • Micky Diaz

      Well said TC! I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts my friend. God bless!…:-)

  • HI Micky and Dan, Listening is very key to being a good leader – well, even just a good person or team member or family member! I often feel that I am not really listened to, so that makes me want to be doubly careful to be sure I am listening to others. And listening includes gleaning other cues too – not just the spoken word – especially when it comes to those we live and work with. Blessings, Amy

    • Micky Diaz

      All of us have something great to contribute into each others life. That’s an even greater incentive to listen more intently to each other. Thanks for sharing your thought and reading the post as well…:-)

  • Listening to God and others is what helped shape me and my ministry into what we are today. It’s how I get ideas, direction, creative input into reaching others.

    • Micky Diaz

      God bless you Bro. Jason! I totally agree that in our service to the Lord and each other it is vitally important to listen to each other. Thank you for sharing your thoughts my friend!…:-)

  • I’ve been able to discern the needs and desires of others as I’ve listened to them. They share their hearts and dreams when you sit back and shut your mouth. Amazing the things you can learn.

    • Micky Diaz

      Listening to someone’s heart and dreams does make listening so much easier. As the people around us express their passion, listening will come rather naturally. Thanks for sharing your thoughts my friend! God bless you!…:-)

  • Listening can be a struggle for me, but I’m trying to get better. It helps me to remember that people are saying things not just to make noise but because they actually want me to process what they are saying. That may not make sense, but it helps me – especially when I keep the same thing over and over from my team.

    • Micky Diaz

      Thanks for sharing Tom! I also understand the struggles of listening from time to time as well especially when it pertains to subject matter I’m most passionate about. Making a mental note to “simply” zip my lap works for me sometimes.

  • I can’t tell you how much seeking council is important to this topic. When you ask what I have learned its been a vast learning experience because I remember when I listened to nobody. Now, I seek Godly advice from fellow, use his wisdom from the bible, and live in his providential and moral will for my life.

    • Micky Diaz

      As iron sharpens iron Bro. Lincoln…:-). Keeping our vertical relationship (God and us) intact, will ensure that our horizontal relationships (those around us) will flourish and prosper. Hmmm….the ultimate servant leader, Jesus made that happen…:-D. God bless you and thanks for sharing your thoughts my friend!…:-)

  • Hey Micky – listening is hard for me too although I know how important it is in life. I guess I should start listening to people like I listen to God in prayer. With people, we always want to share our thoughts, get our opinions in, share our feelings. But I always learn so much more when I don’t say anything and listen. Some of the best counselors I know in my life simply listen without saying more. Listening can help us build stronger relationships, understand another person’s perspective better and create more harmony and peace in our lives.

    • Micky Diaz

      Listening, and listening well to God and others will always be challenging, but it can be done. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts Vishnu! God bless you!…:-)

  • Hi Micky,

    I really enjoyed your guest post at Dan’s blog.

    I loved the point you made about listening to God. Doing this daily as you said, first in the morning and last thing at night will help to ensure we spend our days happy and peaceful.

    Also, when listening, I believe we truly need to listen to be able to determine how to lead different individuals. For instance, the way one person may need to be lead would be different to another.

    Thank you.

    • Micky Diaz

      That is so awesome Hiten! I enjoy “listening” to all of you. Thanks for reading and sharing my friend! God bless you!!!!…:-)

  • Listening is key. I put an emphasis on “listening” in my first book, “A Train Called Forgiveness.” Most of us, including myself, are too quick to speak when we should be listening.

    • Micky Diaz

      I totally agree Dan! The ability to listen provides value on so many different levels, especially in the area of forgiveness. Thanks for sharing the title of your book as well…:-)

  • DS

    I still struggle with slowing down to listen. I find that personal reflection time is paramount in listening, digesting, and processing what we’ve heard, and are hearing. The other side is we need to simply quit talking, and allow others to express their thoughts. Instead of us trying to share so much, we need to be hearers.

    • Micky Diaz

      I’m definitely with you there DS! Personal reflection is a must so we can gain the proper perspective on a certain issue in our lives. God bless you and thanks for sharing and reading the post!…:-)

  • I have definitely learned to make better decisions for my young professionals group as a result of listening to God and others. This is changing the way we do our meetings and I pray that it will also get us out in the community more. God always reminds me of The Great Commission and how much work needs to be done and how many lives we can see transformed by the Gospel.

    I had a great moment where we implemented a change in our last meeting and the person who had played a role in that change said it was an answer to prayer of hers that she has had for a while. I remember she had said something about inductive Bible study in response to my plans for the upcoming season of study and saw she was disappointed that we wouldn’t be doing the inductive approach. I remembered that moment and jumped on the opportunity to include it in our study and it was our best yet! God is so good!

    • Micky Diaz

      Praise God Bro. Jeff! I deeply appreciate your testimony and leadership. It is truly amazing indeed my friend! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts with us. God bless you and your ministry!…:-)

    • Thank you for adding to the conversation Jeff. Enjoyed reading your thoughts about listening.

  • Thanks for sharing those verses. I’ll have to go back and reread them. I’m sure I’ve heard them at some point but always great to refresh what we can learn from them. Starting our day with prayer is very important. It’s those days that I feel the most accomplished.

    • Micky Diaz

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reading the post Bro. Jared! We can never go wrong when we pray and read the Bible with due diligence. Have an awesome day my friend!…:-)

  • Listening is a powerful, powerful art. Without it there’s no hope of good leadership, communication or understanding. I like your addition of listening to yourself – that’s key. Without it you’re heading for failure, if you don’t listen to your body you’ll burnout, unfortunately I think that many ‘leaders’ expect them to be listened to rather than the individuals’ self. Fostering that kind of power within your people is priceless. Great stuff Micky!

    • Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. Listening is one of those small but very important communication skills. It’s essential when it comes to leading others.

    • Micky Diaz

      Thanks a TON Nick! The ability to listen to God, our bodies, and others is almost a lost art form. I deeply appreciate you and your comments! Have an awesome day my friend!…:-)