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3 Ways to Really Listen

15039714_10208878571213823_5551806829554199270_oA new book arrived in the mail from a publicist company. I had been looking forward to it. Listen Love Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World by Karen Ehman. Part way through chapter one I am both ecstatic and defensive.  How do we really listen online and serve in this other world?

Listen Love Repeat talks about heart drops:

“A heart drop is a concept my husband and I learned from our small group leader, Michael. It’s when a person, either directly or indirectly or in a cryptic way, gives you a peek into his or her heart.” (page 15)

This is what I’ve been trying to practice way before this book was published. Heart drops happen online, too. If you want to know what to get someone for Christmas, a birthday, or even a wedding, friend them or follow them on social media. You can discover a whole world about your  new friend by closely following their likes, dislikes, photos, and statuses. The book made me defensive, too. Shortly into it, I am already slapping my forehead in exasperation. On page 17, the book says:

“Our culture is obsessed with self,” it says, and this is true. All one has to do is see the countless amounts of bathroom photos of ourselves. It continues, “We post pictures of ourselves online. What we’re eating. What we’re doing. We’re focused on our schedules, our relationships. At every turn we seem to care about only one thing: ‘What’s in it for me?'” 

Sure, I’m only a bit into this book. The book may point out what I am going to point out now: Those pictures of ourselves, what we eat, what we’re doing, our schedule, and our relationships are bridges to conversation, especially with others who don’t believe in Isa. In our face-to-face world, we are constantly talking about this: our books, our life, what we’re eating, what we’re quilting, etc. Online community is the same way. However, we can get self-absorbed just as we can offline. Technology is just the mirror reflecting how we are in private. So how do we do other-centered living in our new culture since the online world is here to stay and constantly evolving?

There are three ways you can listen to those “heart drops” online:

  • Let them know you are praying for them in private message, text, or comment when you see a status online that is a cry for help, a prayer request, or someone struggling with something. Silently lurking online and praying for them is like someone asking you a question on the phone and you nod in answer. They can’t see that nod. If you want to build relationships with people online and be other-centered, let them know you are praying for them. It shows you care.
  • Live Out Loud. If you spend anytime in the Bible, you know that we aren’t to live in a bubble, ever fearful of letting people into our social media. On the other hand, we should still be discerning. There are real dangers online especially for teenagers. Let your social media reflect who you are in private. Let people see how you live to illustrate what you believe. Go ahead and post what you eat, about your relationships, your favorite books or movies, etc. I would suggest every other status be a question to ask of others on your social media, like what are you having for dinner? If we didn’t talk about our favorite books, books like this one would not sell. Our messages in ministry would not circulate. Show, and sometimes tell, how you are living out your faith.
  • Pay Attention. Pay attention to what people post about what they like or don’t like, what they read, favorite places to go, bucket lists, and favorite restaurants, etc. Gift them with something they would like from listening to their online “heart drops.”

My final review will be posted on another website.