September 12, 2011

Are You Listening?

Today as I was reading Proverbs 12, I ran into one of the most common themes found in the Proverbs. Proverbs 12 opens with this line,

"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid."

Did you get that? Through Solomon & the other writers of Proverbs, God is basically calling a group of people stupid! Who are these idiots? It's the people who will not listen to the advice, correction, or input of others. In verse 15, it says that fools think that their way is always right. They can't imagine listening to someone else's perspective. However, the wise person listens to advice, perhaps even seeks it out.

There is some tension in this though. Who do you listen to? Do you listen to anyone who has "advice" for you? After all, if you have ever led anything, whether it's a multi-million dollar corporation or a Little League baseball team, you know that you get plenty of unsolicited advice. So do you listen to all of it & act on all it? No! Here are a few guidelines I use to filter the "advice" that comes with being a leader while still trying to exercise wisdom by respecting the correction, wisdom, & advice of others.

1) Always Listen To Those Who Actually Have A Relationship With You.
Hear these people out. They have a vested interest in you & the ministry or organization you lead. These people are less likely to simply be trying to get their way.

2) Always Listen To Someone Who Is Willing To Talk To You Personally.
If someone either comes to you directly or sets up a meeting with you in order to share some input or advice, you should honor their willingness to deal with things directly. When you get emails or notes from people who want to give you their input or perspective, try to meet with them one on one. If they refuse or give you the run around, that should tell you they're more interested in getting their way than working with you & seeing you & the organization succeed.

3) Ignore Anonymous "Advice".
If someone can't put their name behind their "advice", then it's not worth your time. Period. In fact, if there's no name on it, I wouldn't even bother reading it. There's a good chance that it will be loaded with misinformation & attacks against you. When you read that stuff, your inclination will be to try & fix it, but you can't because they weren't a big enough person to even put their name on it. It will become nothing but a distraction that will pull you away from your mission.

Remember, listening doesn't necessarily mean implementing, but it does mean seeing the other person's perspective. Giving someone an honest hearing sometimes is all they need. They need to know their feelings & ideas have will be taken into consideration, even if it doesn't translate into implementation.

So are you stupid, or are you listening? Who are you listening to? Are you listening to the right people? Are you getting distracted by the wrong people?

No comments: