This last week I headed to Colorado for a missions training where I learned all about how to facilitate relational learning with adults!
The training was discussion-based and had you learn in small groups. It was such a wonderful week!
So a lot of the people at this training were experienced missionaries, which means that I was the youngest there. At first, I was pretty intimidated. How could I contribute anything to these discussions?? We broke into the groups we would be with for the rest of the week, and my group only had seven people in it. The other six ladies seemed so put-together and comfortable, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to offer anything helpful for this group. However, I was determined to learn from them, so I figured I better listen well. That way, I would be blessing them with a listening ear and would gain some wisdom from these amazing people.
BUT LISTENING IS SO HARD FOR ME BECAUSE MY BRAIN KEEPS WHIZZING AT A MILLION MILES AN HOUR AND THE LAST THING I THINK OF IS TO BE STILL.
Thankfully, I got a lot of practice at listening this past week. Our learning was discussion-based, and one of the key concepts we learned about was the power of silence in a small group. When the facilitator (aka “leader”) is quiet, he/she gives the group an opportunity to think and process what’s been said. Since some people are internal processors, this small period of quiet might be necessary for them to gather their thoughts. For external processors, this pause might help them to sort out which thoughts are worth sharing and which are irrelevant. They had us facilitate a couple of discussions and reminded us of the importance of silence.
As I was leading my discussion, I watched the clock and decided to wait ten short seconds before moving on to my next question. Let me tell ya, those were the. longest. ten. seconds. everrrrrr. BUT they resulted in other people being able to share beautiful insights I hadn’t even thought of. When leading a discussion, silence is powerful.
However, silence isn’t only powerful when leading. It’s an amazing gift to take advantage of when listening. Throughout the week, I worked on not always being the first one to speak. I waited until others shared their thoughts, and sometimes during the pauses in between the other learners I thought of an interesting point that built on what someone else was saying! I was then able to share something much more valuable and relevant than if I had blurted out the first thing that popped into my brain.
Listening takes humility. It puts others first by literally letting them speak first. Sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes you don’t get to share something you think is important. But it has blessed me so much this summer. Listening reminds me that I still have a LOTTT to learn. Listening reminds me that God has given the people around me incredible wisdom. Listening helps me know that even if I don’t get to say what’s on my mind, God will teach his people what he wants them to know in his timing. Listening helps me get myself outta the way and focus on my Savior.
So this week, let’s practice being still. Maybe it’s just for ten seconds, but let’s ask Jesus what he might want to teach us…and then let’s listen for his response.
“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