Recently I have been marking some excellent assignments on Christian Mentoring. Deeply embedded in one or two bibliographies was this treasure of a book by Anne Long, simply and aptly called Listening. I can almost hear one or two of you thinking ‘not another book on listening’ – I ask you to stop and pause, grab a cup of tea and spend a few minutes reading this review.
I first read this book in the 1990’s and it has become a constant companion ever since. It has become a foundation book for me, which has influenced and shaped my skills as a listener in ministry ever since and don’t we need those deep listening skills every single day. So what is special about this book?
Here are my thoughts:
This book teaches you not just to listen, but also to listen in depth, it is written from a Christian worldview, so it grounded in biblical teaching and theological reflection throughout. It reminds me what it is to be called to be a Christian Listener in a world where people are looking for an ear to listen. Have you ever reflected on how Jesus was a listener in his ministry?
Maybe we feel we listen already, but how much do we really hear what is being said to us? Anne in this book takes the reader on a journey of self awareness about what listening really is. Through her personal experiences and through practical exercises at the end of each chapter, the reader learns to listen to the other person, themselves, the wider world and God. There is a good balance of theory and practical experience to draw upon enabling the reader to develop listening skills as they spend time immersed in the pages of the book
If there are any draw backs to the book some of the case studies may seem a little dated today, however I think the book can be forgiven for this as the pearls of wisdom found within far outweigh case studies of a few decades ago.
I would certainly recommend this book to all those who listen to people in their ministries, especially helpful to those who are involved in pastoral care, mentoring or leadership.
So having finished you cup of tea, ponder and pray about whether you should be reading this book and whether it is for you. It is available from the Acorn Christian Listeners (www.acornchristian.org) on line bookshop.