by Rick Warren — August 2, 2022
From Awesome Relationships
“We must bear the ‘burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others.”
Romans 15:2 (TLB)
Listening is probably the most important skill in building friendships and relationships. You can’t love people without listening to them.
But sometimes people run into trouble in their relationships when they think hearing and listening are the same thing. The truth is that there’s a big difference between hearing someone and listening to them.
You can hear something and not really be listening. I can’t tell you how many arguments I’ve had with my kids or my wife because I was hearing the words but not really listening to the emotions. Sometimes the words don’t even matter. Someone can say to you, “I’m fine,” but the way they say it tells you that they’re not fine. Listening means you also hear what the person isn’t saying.
When you listen that way, you’re showing empathy. Empathy means to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and learn their point of view. You ask yourself, “How would I feel if I were in that situation?”
Listening with empathy means you listen without interruption and you listen for what’s not being said—the feelings and fears behind the words. And you don’t need to try to fix the situation; sometimes healing comes just from someone listening!
Romans 15:2 says, “We must bear the ‘burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others” (TLB).
What does it mean to be considerate or to bear the burden of someone else’s doubts? It means that—when people are in so much pain that they don’t even know what they believe—they need the devotion of a loyal friend. They need someone who will be present and listen with empathy. Will you be that friend today?