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Adam McHugh: The Listening Life

All of the means that God employed in Scripture to communicate with people are still valid ways for Him to communicate today.

Listening to other people is also important, this is particularly true for those involved in ministry, because all true ministries involve listening (page 135). Being a good listener is not an easy quality to develop. McHugh has a section called “How to Be a Bad Listener” in it he identifies a number of things we sometimes do that hinder good listening (pages 139-142). After this he provides counsel about how to be a better listener in order to help people. This includes not asking closed-end questions (those that can be answered “yes” or “no”). In the course of chapters six and seven “Listening to Others,” and “Listening to People in Pain” McHugh offers examples of ministry conversations with others.

Rich possibilities await those who attempt to make these listenings a regular part of their life.

Chapter eight is devoted to listening to our own lives. As the author points out there are many inner voices that beckon for our attention. He has identified a number of them by attaching names to them such as: the parent, the therapist, the defendant, the critic (182-183). In this chapter he also counsels us to listen to our emotions, our bodies, our scripts (certain ideas that we believe such as “Money will supply me with the security I need,” page 196), our questions, and our score (as if our lives were musical scores—are they too loud, too staccato, pages 201-202).

Attentiveness, discipline, and patience are necessary in order to bear fruit in listening.

There is much to ponder and process in this book. Implementing the information it contains cannot be done on the fast track, it will require a lifetime of practice. However, rich possibilities await those who attempt to make these listenings a regular part of their life. Attentiveness, discipline, and patience are necessary in order to bear fruit in listening. These qualities will enhance our knowledge and experience of God and will better equip us to help others.

Reviewed by John Lathrop


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Category: Living the Faith, Summer 2017

About the Author: John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He has written for a number of publications and is the author of four books Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers Then and Now (Xulon Press, 2008), The Power and Practice of the Church: God, Discipleship, and Ministry (J. Timothy King, 2010), Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and Dreams & Visions: Divine Interventions in Human Experience (J. Timothy King, 2012). He also served as co-editor of the book Creative Ways to Build Christian Community (Wipf & Stock, 2013). Amazon Author page. Facebook

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