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The Gift of Listening

Just before I left Australia for the UK I was privileged to be interviewed by Simon Smart at the Centre for Public Christianity. In this short 7 minute video Simon asks me about my time hosting Open House, in particular:

  • Some of my favourite interview guests
  • One of my more surprising guests
  • Guests who displayed wisdom, and the role pain played in their lives
  • And the lessons I’ve learnt through hosting the show

As I’ve mentioned before, and mention again to Simon, one lesson I did have confirmed through Open House is the deep desire we all have to be listened to.

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Q: Describe a time in your life when you were profoundly helped by being deeply listened to. 

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  • Tegan_J

    This is a story not so much about me being helped but me learning the importance of listening. Several years ago I was a teenager at a Christian conference in Perth and on one day of the conference we were sent in groups out into the Perth community to a range of different centers and activities. I was assigned a visit to a salvation army drop in centre in the middle of Perth. Being a young female this was an intimidating yet exciting challenge to be given.

    After spending some time helping/hiding? in the kitchen with a few of the ladies I was told to just go out into the centre and talk to the individuals who had come in. Looking around the room I found what I thought appeared to be the least intimidating person and went and sat opposite him – a well dressed male probably in his early 30s.

    I had very little clue as to what to talk to this man about, I told him my name and then we sat in silence for a few minutes. However after a short time of silence this man began to open up and he told me so many stories of his life – wandering the world without purpose for over two decades, battling gambling addictions and displacement, and his heartfelt desire to be reunited with his child he had not seen for over a decade and a half. From what I recall this man spoke to me for over two hours and all I merely did was sit and listen.

    At the end of this time when the man was being called away he told me how much it meant to him to have been listened to and that for many decades he had wandered from place to place alone with noone who would give him the time just to listen.

    The man that day then told me that I should become a counsellor because I could listen well. A comment I did not take too seriously at the time.
    I do not know this mans name, nor what has happened to him or where he is now. Though I know it was important to have listened to him that day.

    I know that this experience was an important part of God preparing me for my future, and low and behold I am now training to become a counsellor (despite having forgotten about this story for a long time). And through this I understand how powerful listening is to demonstrate to someone that they are loved, accepted, heard and have their experiences and feelings validated.

    • Oh, I love this story, Tegan! What a gift you gave… and ended up receiving back. I’d love to know how your counselling studies go. Looks like God this experience to signficantly direct your life.