Are you ready for it? I’ll warn you beforehand – it’s going to sound simple, but it’s not. It takes great concentration and effort and no small measure of grace. So here goes – a simple way to die to the self:
I mean really listen.
Here’s why that’s hard – because very few of us actually do it. Think about it – how many times, when leaving a conversation, have you forgotten the person’s name you just met? How many times has a detail resurfaced in conversation that you should have remembered but didn’t? How many times, as someone rattles on and on about their kids, their work, their ideas – do you simply tune out and look for an exit strategy to the conversation? How many times, if you heard a playback of the conversation, would you say something after someone else that only vaguely touches upon what they said and instead purports your own ideas?
Surely I can’t be alone here.
I find myself, more often than I care to admit, thinking more about my own clever reply or better story or great response than actually listening when another person is talking. But when you choose to actually listen, you are making the active choice to die to the self. You are placing importance on another human being – more importance than on yourself.
It’s true, those who actively listen, sometimes look like idiots in conversation because there are lulls after someone is speaking. But that’s because the listener hasn’t been thinking about how to respond nearly as much as he or she has been thinking about what is being said.
I’m willing to take that risk. Maybe you are, too. Listen today. Listen well.