Learning to be an Incredible Listener. My sermon notes at Thrive Church CA

I taught this message at Thrive Church CA on February 11, 2018 for their ‘Fight Night’ series! I also had the amazing opportunity to bring Bekah (my oldest) with me and we got to experience some amazing sights in Northern CA! Including the Golden Gate Bridge!

Message Notes    |    |

Slide # 1…Series Graphic + Jason’s Social Media Info

  • Good Morning Thrive Church! How are we doing today?
  • It is such a privilege to be with you this morning! Not only because it’s like -5 degrees back home, but because I love your Church and I love your Pastor!
  • And, I have been wanting to say thank you in person for a long time for helping bring this little boy home from China!

Slide # 2…Two Pictures of Kai

  • Your amazing gift was such a critical component to helping us Bring Kai home and we’re still so thankful! So, If you gave to that gift, THANK YOU!
  • He is going great. He’s been home just over a year and he’s learning new things all the time.
  • He has a genetic disorder called PKU, like two of our other kids and it’s a very rare thing that’s pretty costly and the longer he would have spent in China, the worse it would have became. So, thank you!
  • It is great to be with you today and I was able to bring my almost 18 year old daughter, Bekah, with me as well.
  • And, I love the series that you’re in.

Series Info: Fight Night

  • Were all going to deal with this thing called Conflict at times in our lives. Some of us have dealt with major conflict, some of us run like crazy away from it.
  • The reality is, Conflict resolution is a giant game changer in our relationships. When we learn to leverage it for good, it will not only improve our relationships, but it will bring us close to God.
  • The reality is, we’ve all probably been backed into the ropes at times in our relationships.
  • Maybe you’ve actually been in an actual fight. I grew up in Detroit, but whenever presented with the option of fighting, I actually pride myself on how good I became and running away from the fight! I was out!
  • Now, I’m not a giant boxing fan, but I love the Rocky movies. What I know about boxing is, when you get backed into the ropes, you pretty much are getting hit pretty good.
  • When that happens, we stop listening. We’re just trying to survive at that point. Listening is the key if we’re going to deal with the conflict that comes.
  • Typically what happens when we’re backed into the ropes is that we just try to retreat, avoid, ignore, stick our heads in the ground, attack back, bring up the past.
  • So, we go on the defensive and we’ll do anything to walk away unwounded. But, too often, nothing changes.  
  • What if, instead of fighting back or verbal sparring back. What if putting up our arms to protect us.
  • What if we learn how to listen, so we can hear the heart of what’s hurting the person close to us.
  • I don’t know about you, but when I think of listening, I think of this amazing truth from this poet…

Slide # 3…Picture of Vanilla Ice with the words next to his image

All right stop, Collaborate and listen, Ice is back with my brand new invention, Something grabs a hold of me tightly, Then I flow that a harpoon daily and nightly, Will it ever stop?, Yo, I don’t know, Turn off the lights and I’ll glow, To the extreme, I rock a mic like a vandal, Light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle

  • Ice, Ice Baby. Right, so much we can learn from Vanilla! Hah.
  • I read this quote about listening from one of my favorite Pastors and Authors on the planet, John Ortberg…

Slide # 4…‘You can’t listen in a hurry’ ~John Ortberg

    • If we’re going to learn how to listen, we have to stop rushing around all the time. We have to stop treating our relationships or the conflict like it’s an item on our checklist.


  • So, often, when we think of Listening, its so we can fix someone or something.
  • Most of what we consider “conversation” is, is merely interrupting monologues.


    • At Thrive Church MI, we have a staff member by the name of Dr. Tom. I’ve known him for 20+ years. He’s so brilliant. He’s so close to Jesus. I asked him what listening is and he said…


  • Its to keep company with someone.


  • Like, “I’m tracking with you.”
  • Listening is simple enough in principle, and nearly impossible to live.
  • Too often we are slow to hear, quick to speak, and quick to anger. So, learning to listen well won’t happen overnight. It requires discipline, effort, and intentionality. You get better with time, they say. Becoming a better listener hangs not on one big resolve to do better in a single conversation, but on developing a pattern of little resolves to focus in on particular people in specific moments.

Story: Jason and moving the Couch

  • A few years ago, we helped a friend move and the last item was the worst invention in the history of mankind.
  • A Couch bed. Why God Why?
  • And, worse yet, the friend asked my wife if we wanted it? And she said yes!
  • So, we struggled to get it upstairs and then we put it in the back of a truck. Well, it was too long, so I turned it sideways and part of it was hanging over the edge and side of the truck.
  • My wife so graciously said…Jason, I think that’s a bad idea. Jason, I think you should tie that down.
  • Of course like the super caring and super listening husband that I am, I said, woman, I’m the man. It will be ok. Hahah
  • Well, this was a big pick up truck and 3 kids were in the back and there were 3 of us up front.
  • My son Zach was giving me a play by play the entire way. Dad, the couch is shaking. Dad, the couch is moving.
  • I was keeping an eye on it the whole way and told everyone and reminded them that I was the man, the dad and I had it under control.
  • Well, Zach was freaking out more and more and his play by play got more crazy. Dad, the couch is bouncing, the couch is dancing.
  • Just as I looked up into the rear view mirror to calm him down, I hear Zach say…DAD…THE COUCH IS GONE.
  • I saw the couch just take off like a fighter jet from an aircraft carrier!
  • It was GONE. Up in the air and it was spinning. Before long the entire bed couch opened up and it came down fast and landed in the middle of the road, with the bed open and the pillows fell down right on the couch!
  • I stopped the truck and looked at Tracie and said, what should we do now? She said…oh, you want me to listen to you after that!

Slide # 5…Big Idea: Be Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak, Slow to become angry

  • If you want to honor God when you’re up against the ropes, be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry.
  • This comes directly from the words of James in the New Testament in James 1:19

James 1:19

  • James is the author of James and he has a unique family member. He was Jesus’ half brother. He was one of the main leaders in the Jerusalem Church
  • He was writing this to 1st century followers of Jesus
  • James is writing this book to followers of Jesus and his main point is to encourage them to live out their faith. He says it’s one thing to believe in Jesus, know about Jesus, but it’s an entirely different thing to live your life for Him. To honor Him with your life.
    • When we talk too much and listen too little, we communicate to others that we think our ideas are much more important than theirs.


  • James say…hey, why don’t you reverse the process.


  • Put a mental stopwatch on your conversations and keep track of how much you talk and how much you listen.
  • When people talk to you, do they feel that they are heard? Do they feel valued?
  • Here’s how James worded it…

Slide # 6…‘My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry’ ~James 1:19

  • He starts by getting the attention of his church members! MY DEAR BROTHERS! It’s kind of like when you start whispering around your kids. Any of your kids do this? They don’t hear you at all at normal conversation volume. Or yelling. But, you whisper. They quiet right down!
  • And, get this, he doesn’t exclude anyone because he says…EVERYONE. EVERY ONE!
  • Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry

Slide # 6…Be Quick to Listen


  • So, this is one simple line from scripture that can CHANGE your relationships if you live it out.
  • It can turn your relationships upside down. It can help you overcome selfishness and a disease that seemingly has overtaken humanity…me-itis!


  • If you’re in conflict with someone, or someone is trying to talk to you, we need less interrupters! We need better listeners.

Slide # 7…‘Answering before listening is both stupid and rude’ ~Proverbs 18:13 (MSG)

How we can learn from how Jesus listened to people:

  1. He gave people His whole attention
  • Eye contact
  • Not interrupting
  • Put your phone down.
    • My rule: Don’t take it into lunch meetings.
    • Families: Make everyone put it into a basket
    • Small Group Nights: Make everyone put their phones on the counter
  1. He stepped into the other person’s shoes.
  • This is where Empathy comes into play
  • Romans 12:17-19…Discover beauty in everyone, don’t hit back.
  • Try to imagine their pain. Be more concerned about their wounds than yours.
  1. He didn’t Judge! He put down the stones.
  2. He asked questions! He was the master question asker

Story: My Madison and her questions

  • I spoke on Long Island, NY in Jan and I took my 10 year old. She asked questions non stop, the entire trip. I don’t think she took one breath!


  • Jesus asked 307 questions. He was asked 183 and he only answered 3!


  • Listen to this great Proverb!

Proverbs 13:3…”Careful words make for a careful life; careless talk may ruin everything” (MSG)

  • If tensions are rising, or even if they’re not, we must learn to be GREAT listeners!
  • Be quick to listen.
  • I love Proverbs 18:30 from the message

Proverbs 18:13…”Answering before listening is both stupid and rude” (MSG)

A few more tips…

  • Express your concern and willing presence by looking your friend in the eye.
  • Lean toward the speaker in a posture that says, “I really want to hear whatever you have to say.”
  • Touch when appropriate – a gentle squeeze of the hand, a tender pat on the arm, a solid hug.
  • When possible, meet in a private place where tears are free to fall and where emotions can be openly expressed.
  • Convey a message of hope and genuine interest. “I have time for you. I care. You‘re not alone. We can get through this together.” True listening honors the speaker.
  • Displaying shock or judgment will effectively shut down communication.
  • Allow for silence. A careful silence following the other person’s talk, tells her you are not sure if she is finished or is still gathering her thoughts.
  • Don’t give mandates; explore options.
  • Your time together is about the other, not you. It is not the time to share your story. Many a meaningful exchange has been prematurely ended with, “You think that’s bad. One time I . . .”
  • If you’re not a professional counselor, don’t attempt to be one. Listen and if necessary refer your friend to a professional who can be of help.

Be Quick to Listen

Slide # 8…

Good listening requires Patience


  • 1 Cor 13:4…Love is patient
  • Patience is the capacity to be wronged and not retaliate


Good listening is an Act of Love


  • We can’t be preoccupied with ourselves


Good listening asks Great Questions

Slide # 9…“Listening can be a greater service than speaking.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Big Idea: BE Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak, Slow to become angry

Slide # 10…Slow to Speak

  • When we’re up against the ropes, we want to defend ourselves.
  • We stop listening and we start speaking a lot!
  • Anybody ever say something in a fight that they regretted the second it came out of their mouths?

Be Slow to Speak

Slide # 11…‘Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise, as long as they keep their mouths shut, they’re smart’ ~Proverbs 17:28 (MSG)

Imagine how better off our relationships and marriages would be if we were slow to speak.

  • No eruptions
  • NO flying off the handle
  • Holding our sarcastic comments in
  • Leaving our passive aggressive comments out of it

Proverbs 12:18…”Rash language cuts and maims, but there is healing in the words of the wise” (MSG)

[Illustration: Tootpaste]

  • Ok, a little fun to demonstrate something so powerful! It’s so easy for words to flow out…both positive and negative.
  • But, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to get them back! Especially if they came out quick and you didn’t want to say them.

Back in the Bible, in the book of James it says this:

James 3:6…the tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire and is itself set on fire by the hell!

  • What you say and what you don’t say are both important. Proper speech is not only saying the right words at teh right time, but it is also controlling your desire to say what you shouldn’t.
  • Gossip, putting others down, bragging, manipulating, exaggerating, complaining, flattering, lying

Ask yourself:

  1. Is this true?
  2. Is it necessary
  3. Is it kind?
  • James compares the tongue to a raging fire. The uncontrolled tongue can do crazy damage.
  • It can divide couples, families and friends. It can pit them against each other.
  • Just a few words can damage a relationship.
  • Ok, if the tongue is so powerful, how can we control it?
  • Don’t use your strength, use God’s! He gives us the Holy Spirit, an equal part of the Trinity…Father, Son and Holy Spirit to give us power and to convict us.

Ephesians 4:29…Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul of dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word is a gift.

Big Idea: BE Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak, Slow to become angry

Slide # 12…Slow to become Angry

  • Selfish anger never helps anybody. When our egos are bruised or hurt when MY opinions are not being heard. When injustice and sin occur, we should become angry because others are being hurt.
  • But we should not become angry when we fail to win an argument or when we feel offended or neglected.

Slow to become Angry

Slide # 13…‘Don’t be quick to fly off the handle. Anger boomerangs. You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head’ ~Ecclesiastes 7:9 (MSG)


Seek God. Chase after Him. Talk to Him…all the time. Fill your minds the stuff of God.

The bible says to fill our minds with things are that True, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious, the best, not the worst, the beautiful, not the ugly, things to praise, not things curse.

Slide # 14…Challenge: Instead of Protecting Our Wounds, Help Heal Wounds

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