Are you a good listener?

Hi @Interested_in_Evangelism,

In a fascinating article for Christianity Today, speaker and author Doug Pollock shares this story:

So I told him I was an author and speaker. He quickly asked me what I write about and I responded that he could actually help me with what I was writing about. Intrigued, he asked, “How can I do that?” Here was my response: “I’m on my way to speak at one of the largest churches in Colorado. If I gave you 30 minutes to tell these Christians what not to do to have a spiritual conversation with you, what would you tell them?”

Without any hesitation, he said, “I’d tell them if you are not willing to listen to me, I am not going to listen to you. Every conversation I’ve ever had with Christians has been one-sided. They always want to do all the talking and expect me to do all the listening.”

Doug also provides a helpful “quiz” to assess our listening skills:

Answer the following statements with a yes or no response. When you finish, total the number of yes responses.

When others are talking to me…

  1. I find myself finishing their sentences.

  2. I give my opinions before hearing them out.

  3. I get restless and impatient.

  4. I lose track of what is being said.

  5. I mentally rehearse what I’m going to say next.

  6. I take control of the conversation.

  7. I interrupt with frequent comments or questions.

  8. I try to diagnose and help them fix their problems.

  9. I worry about what I’m going to say next.

  10. I am suspiciously listening for hidden agendas.

Personally, I think Doug is onto something! From my own personal experience, I enjoy talking and having others listen. So it seems likely that other people feel the same way… :slight_smile:

At the same time, I think we all know someone who hasn’t learned the art of “conversational tennis”: first you serve, then I reply, and you hit the ball back, and on we go, in a very nice, pleasant, back-and-forth manner.

By contrast, some people seem to keep serving, serving, serving, serving, whether or not I return any of the balls. It gets tiresome and eventually we walk off the court to find something else to do!

However, to embrace Doug’s recommendation, we may have to re-imagine our understanding of evangelism. If we think that evangelism involves giving a mini-sermon of the gospel and inviting a response, then it will not make sense to be a good listener. (And I’m all for presenting the gospel and inviting people to follow Jesus).

But if we understand evangelism as developing compassion and curiosity for other people’s spiritual perspective, and caring about their life story and circumstances, and we desire to empathetically dialogue with them as friends, then listening makes perfect sense. And I think this is the approach that will enable us to build the understanding - and trust - that is so important for showing the gospel is at work in our lives.

That is, when we demonstrate the love of Jesus by listening well, I believe that our words about the love of Jesus will have more credibility. Of course, either way, we are entirely dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How did you score on the quiz?

  2. What conversational habit could you adopt to become a better listener?

  3. How can the RZIM Connect environment deepen your capacity to listen well?


OK. I had more no’s than yes’s, but one of my yes’s was a big one = #8. Actually, it probably encompasses some of the others. I’m a “fixer” by nature.

I like the tennis court idea. I have been intentionally trying not to say anything until I’m sure the other person has completed what he/she wants to say. Wait for a silent pause to see if the person wants to say anything else before expressing your viewpoint. It’s helped a lot, but I need a lot more practice (especially in conversations with my husband :face_with_raised_eyebrow: )

I think these short commentaries and examples that Carson and others give are great reminders of what our job is. Also, reading all the responses before giving your own cuts down on contradictions and repetition. (However, some of that can be good for differences of ideas or reinforcement.)


My score is terrible.
Immediately I thought about setting goals, taking on each #, one at a time, which could actually help me improve my listening skills (which the awareness alone should help me do/be).

Then I realized that there’s more.
Evangelism? Yes. But what about the people that I already profess to love?
WHY don’t I listen?
My brain blasted through with listening>perfection>my motives>change>fear>surrender>

To hatchet a meme that I saw somewhere on social media,
Will I repent enough to be forgiven? Or will I surrender enough to be changed?

Thank you Holy Spirit.

because He first loved,

#3 -RZIM Connect Environment,
is there a way in my settings to shut off all the “likes” or data collection?

I can understand why all the data is gathered so that folks can grow into those different participation/leadership levels of responsibility. You still need to measure what you’ve set out to measure.
RZIM Connect: To have this global space in which to come, to me it is a sacred classroom. God looks at the heart. (Internal VS External)

Gratefully yours,


One of the best things I did to become a better listener was to buy a standing desk. When somebody comes into my office I walk out from behind my desk and meet them away from my computer (and phone).


@sgewehr I enjoyed reading your post and thank you @CarsonWeitnauer for sharing.

I think I did well on the test . However I got ‘YES’ for the following: #4, #5, #9.

I have been in much prayer about this because I will be having an entirely different conversation in my head with myself while someone is speaking to me :woman_facepalming:t5:. I promise that I am not crazy, just that I dont wanna say the wrong thing and go in deep thought before answering a person.

So I suppose I am not giving the person my full attention.

I can adopt the trait of picking important points from a conversation and say it back to the person to let them know I am engaged. Also to relax and trust that all things are working for my good . Even if I say something clumsy that it will be used for lessons which equal blessings :hugs: #EveryBodyWins.

This Forum can help me to listen well by reading all of a post and ensuring that I answer all key points.

P.S @sgewehr I also need the grace of listening with my husband lol :grin::grimacing:


I love your post especially the social media post you referenced.

I pray that we will all surrender enough to be changed .


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Sounds like a great plan what you did with your standing desk. Very practical!


Hello all and thanks for this important question. The input from each is much appreciated.
For me 9 was a definite YES.
What helps me alot was a teaching I took to heart. It had to do with conflict resolution.
Some points were.
Dont have preset notions about the individual.
Determine to Forgive before you begin no matter what they say remember Eph 6:12.
Remain calm dont fidget. Makes them nervous.
Make occasional eye contact stay focused on thier space no wandering.
Be a quiet attentive active listener.
Watch your body language it speaks volumes.
Let them speak all that is on thier mind and
Make certain they are done.
Put thier words into your words so they see you understand (so what your are saying is).
Its personal important to them treat it as such.
A soft answer is always better Prov 15:1
These help me stay focused on the speaker so I can better answer the question.
Hope it was helpful to someone.


Excellent points, Mike @mgaplus4 ; worth bookmarking. Thanks.


Alisha, Thank you for sharing your challenges, as well as,
reading posts in their entirety and using your thoroughness to connect to their authors.

I definitely connected to your last two paragraphs:
“I can adopt…” & “This Forum…”

…because He first loved,


I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Do I listen when people talk? Actively listen? I have to honestly say, it takes a lot of self-control to keep my mouth closed. But sometimes being quiet is more powerful than speaking. If people don’t feel heard, my words won’t mean much to them.


#5 and #9 uggh :pensive: and occasionally #8 :grimacing: Whith my husband, #1 through #10 :joy: poor guy.


Thank you @CarsonWeitnauer for this great reminders.

  1. I scored two yeses @ #6 and #8. I guess that is because I wants to say out may mind lately.
    I was touched by this concept again, it seems I am forgetting too quickly

This is the habit I will like to work more on

  1. [quote=“CarsonWeitnauer, post:1, topic:27275”]
    understand evangelism as developing compassion and curiosity for other people’s spiritual perspective, and caring about their life story and circumstances, and we desire to empathetically dialogue with them as friends, then listening makes perfect sense.
    This habit Will be a helpful conversational qualities for me to develop on.

  2. Coming across this kind of reminders is doing me good and I think constant practice will develop me the more.


Very challenging discussion and I must say I failed dismally in the quiz. I wonder now though that if my answer to #9 I worry about what I’m going to say, had been no how much more reliant on the holy spirit that would make me cause then I’d know as scripture says that he’s going to give me the words to say.


The RZIM Connect environment is a perfect place to deepen my listening skills. Just being aware of Doug’s questions is a help. Written/typed conversation is much easier for me because I can focus on what the other person is saying and reread to make sure I understand what the person is saying. Adopting open ended questions and then shutting up with the intent of understanding the other person (valuable as they are) will be something I am putting into practice now to help me become a better listener and therefor a better witness pointing others to Jesus.

I do have a question. I have a workmate that talks and then when he is done he hangs up or ends the conversation. How can I politely keep the conversation going when he is done with his side.


5 Yes’s…
What I try to consciously do is wait until there is a pause from whomever is talking. Otherwise I want to finish sentences and I sometimes find myself redirecting the conversation. I guess it must be similar to the tennis court idea that sgewehr brings up, but I am not sure what that is… Good quiz as a reminder!

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Love your suggestions!

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