In a world where people are increasingly busy, distracted and self-focused we need people who will stop and give others time to really listen. In this photo Anna Dziubinska (Unsplash.Com) captures this beautifully. In a busy London station people are rushing to their train, distracted by their phone or looking lost. Very few people in the photo are truly engaged with others. A station is, of course, not the place people usually go to for deep conversation yet we often bring the mentality of the station into every zone of our life. Even in the home conversations are usually interrupted by the buzzing of phone notifications or the noise of the music or tv in the background.

We cannot pretend that we do not live in the 21st century internet age but we can seek to create spaces where we truly listen to people. This morning I was doing some training with a couple who have agreed to be bereavement listeners. As we were thinking through what would be involved it became clear just  how important it would be for them to demonstrate to the bereaved person that they truly were listening and seeking to understand what they had gone through. I know this couple will be great at this because they are naturals. Before our meeting they were fully engaged with a women who had come into our community cafe for some company. They gave her time and they gave her eye contact. They spoke only when necessary and they told me that the women said that she would be happy this afternoon as she sat alone at home because she had spoken to some people this morning. This couple gave that person a gift this morning: they truly listened and were not distracted. As they volunteer in our HOPE bereavement drop in they will give many others a gift to.

As a Christian when I pray I believe that God is able to give me full attention. When I read about how Jesus lived, despite being incredibly busy, when he stopped for someone he gave them his full attention (eg) When Jesus heals woman and girl. This challenges me because sometimes I can be so focused on the thing I need to do next that I can miss the people that God wants me to stop and listen and love. If you are a follower of Jesus, part of your following needs to be listening as Jesus listened. Over the last couple of weeks I have found myself noticing the people that I need to stop and listen to. I believe that God is trying to encourage me in this because, even though I gave such people a tiny gift of time, I have discovered that the tiny investments I have given have reaped much more fruit and benefits in their lives that I could ever have imagined. It is exciting to see what happens when we truly listen and truly love people.

How about you? Could you give someone the gift of your full attention today. Could you truly listen to someone and seek to understand where they are coming from without jumping in to try to solve their problems? If you can do this you will give them something truly precious – you will help them to feel valued as a human being.