Listening: to Whom and How

I have now spent over a month going back over a talk that lasted about 15 minutes! First, I gave you the talk pretty much as I delivered it. The next week, I described why I was giving a talk and how I was chosen as well as how I prepared. I then started breaking the talk down into sections and have covered what it takes to have ears to hear (having some sort of desperation to know Christ) and then how listening begins with being present.

Today, the focus is on choosing who to listen to and how to listen, which pretty much finishes my thoughts and studies.

Choosing the voices to heed in life is extremely important. All it takes is a quick internet search on almost any topic, and we find conflicting viewpoints with varying degrees of authority and reliability. It would be nice if there was some sort of “North Star” that we could use as we tried to make sense of all the information that floods around us on a daily basis!

My promise from personal experience is that we do have that North Star. His name is Jesus, the Savior of all who will put their trust in him.

To truly know about and then eventually come to actually know Christ, we have to choose our sources carefully. In Alma 30, we learn that there are two general undercurrents in the thoughts and attitudes of those who would minimize faith in Jesus: 1) spiritual feelings are just delusions, and 2) serving God deprives us of the good things in life.

On the other hand, we have been given scriptures, and we also have ancient and modern apostles. Their message has been “Come and see. Listen to the words we have to teach you about the Savior and about eternal life. Live the doctrines and principles faithfully and be patient. Watch what happens to your life. You will find peace. You will find true joy. You will find that you know that God and Jesus really do live and they really do love you.”

And, they also will allow you to believe otherwise if you feel that your experiment has failed. Will the naysayers allow you that same privilege? Actions always speak louder than words.

In research, we always look for original sources. Secondary sources are admittedly tainted by the perceptions and biases of those who record them. Even if a researcher tries to remain impartial, he or she views the subject through current cultural norms. I testify that the scriptures and the witness of apostles and prophets are primary sources. These are men who have dedicated their lives to serving God, and they have come to know Him very well. I also testify, because I have seen it in my life, applying their teachings has led me to a personal knowledge of and a personal relationship with my Savior.

I would urge you to go to the original sources

 

Many good web articles and books exist on the mechanics of good academic listening. I mentioned them in my original talk, and you can also do your own internet searches. I have started applying some of the principles I have learned and have gotten a big return on my investment both spiritually and professionally.

What I would rather focus on is the spiritual side of listening.

To learn spiritually, we have to prepare spiritually. We have to repent of our sins and be working with the Spirit to overcome our weaknesses. We have to be living gospel standards and trying to be the best disciples of Christ that we can be. We need to be praying so that we are humbling our wills and comfortable with having an open dialogue with our Heavenly Father, and we need to be reading the scriptures to learn the language of the Spirit and to receive answers to our prayers. We need to be in the habit of listening for the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in following those heavenly directions.

I also like to pray before reading scriptures and attending meetings so that I have the blessings and the mindset of learning and worshipping. Keeping spiritual music as the main sound in my home also helps keep me in a spiritual place. Attending the temple regularly is also instrumental in being ready to learn.

Isn’t it funny how it always comes back to the “Primary answers”? That’s because they work.

The second step in listening is called attending – paying attention to knowledge that we are receiving through the Spirit. When reading scriptures and attending meetings, I look for answers to questions that have been nagging me. I also try to be aware of new knowledge and new connections of knowledge I already possess. I look for things that might be urging me to answer someone’s prayer by offering help.

I promise that, by listening and acting on the knowledge received spiritually, we can actually access the powers of Heaven. I testify that God wants to bless those people who are ready and willing to do his will. He wants us to have true, eternal joy, and he wants us to come to know Him!

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