Listening Skills. It’s a core pillar we teach our kids. It’s one of the fundamental elements we look for in a great leader or employee. We tend to tout our own abilities to hear and know what our family, our clients, or our friends need-sometimes even before they ask. Ironically, as a parent, I’ve been noticing more and more how poor my listening skills really are.
Lately I’ve realized that no sooner have I asked my child a question than I begin to answer it myself assuming I already know what they were going to say-only later to realize I was completely wrong. My impatience is keeping me from being quiet and waiting as long as it takes to listen to EVERYTHING that is being said first before I act. To be honest, my poor listening skills aren’t limited to just my kids. In reading the story of Joshua and the steps God gave the people of Israel to follow to inherit the Promised Land, I realized I am no Joshua. Joshua was a great listener.
If God had been talking to me, instead of Joshua, I would’ve left the conversation likely in Joshua 1:11 when God said:
“Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.”
Knowing myself, I would’ve then spent the next week wondering why God didn’t give us the Promised Land. Or maybe, if I was being especially patient that day, I would’ve listened to God through chapter 2..maybe even chapter 3. But at some point, believing I heard all I needed from God and assuming I already knew all I needed to know, I would’ve forged ahead before having heard EVERYTHING God had to tell me.
I’ve realized that when God doesn’t move when we’re confident we’ve heard Him speak; it’s likely because of our listening skills-not His inattention. Knowing me, I likely would’ve told the people that God was giving Jericho over to us and all we needed to do was to take a lap. If I was being SUPER patient, maybe I would’ve listened through God’s step-by-step instructions through: “ March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days.” But if Joshua had stopped listening early, as I tend to do, then no one would have witnessed the blessings of the miracle God had planned on day 7.
If Joshua hadn’t patiently listened to all of God’s instructions, then he could’ve obediently led the Israelites around the walls of Jericho for 6 full days, like God said, and yet wondered why on day 7, the walls remained still intact.
The older I get, the more I’ve realized that God often gives us small, step-by-step instructions one moment at a time. Yes, God spoke to Joshua. Yes, God told him to consecrate himself. Yes, God told him to have the ark of the covenant lead them. Yes, God told him to cross the Jordan on dry ground. Yes, God told him to march around the city once a day for six days, but before the miracle would come, Joshua needed to listen completely and obey fully so that he would know God would change the pace on day 7.
In my own life, I’ve seen that my small, daily laps of obedience are building my endurance for the efforts that will be needed to bring my miracle on day 7. One of my favorite verses is Joshua 3:3b-4a:
“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”
How many times have I marched ahead of God and not followed Him even though I’ve never been this way before? In God’s infinite wisdom, He leads the way for us-if we will obediently follow. He gives us all we need to know today before overwhelming us with the increased pace of His plan tomorrow.
Ultimately, God is simply asking, “Will you listen completely to me today? Will you obey me fully today?” If we will patiently wait on Him to give us our steps to take on this day, then we will faithfully lead like Joshua and be ready to change the pace as the walls, miraculously, come crashing down so that we may step into our Promised Land.
Are you ready to listen?