He needs to talk. You need to listen. It is more fun for you that way too.
He needs to talk about 90% of the time. Most men seldom get to talk about his concerns, his hurts, and frustration. Often your most significant service is to just, actively listen to him. That is a profound ministry.
He needs to talk example
Not long ago I sat with a Christian brother for three hours in his apartment. He talked non-stop the whole time. He talked about family issues, personal economic issues, workplace issues, and more. All I did was look at him, nod on occasion, and make some hopefully well-placed sounds and non-words like Umm, ahh, ouch, etc. Well, there were a few words like “How is …?”, “What is your next step?” We did get some water to drink and relieve ourselves of the same. But that was it!
At that time he had to go to work. So I was getting ready to leave. Then he stopped and looked intently at me. “Thanks so much for listening!! I am feeling a lot better now.” Finally, with a long hug, we were both on our way.
My thoughts later that day included:
- He was sure thankful!
- I was not bored because I was always busy processing his issues.
- Nothing overtly spiritual had come up.
- But I am sure he knew I care about him and his issues.
- I am sure there was more on his mind or soul that he did not have time to say.
- He had not wanted to leave.
- Neither had I.
- He looks a lot more relaxed now.
- I felt satisfied.
Some things to notice
First, we had already developed a friendship relationship. He opened up because he knew he could trust me. That is to become transparent. Fully listening without any judgment or critique deepened that transparency. The more he shared, the more he felt free to share. Probably, he was sure I would not criticize him.
Second, my focus on him was undivided. Neither of us took phone calls or text messages. It would be even better if we turned our hand-held devices off. If had to look up something for him, I could power it on then. Better yet tell him what you remember and if necessary correct it later with a text message, email, or phone call.
Third, I felt great. My friend’s gratitude was my reward. Also rewarded by noticing the release of tension in his voice and body.
Build a friendship. As it matures, your friend with feel free to share his innermost thoughts, fears and feeling with you. As he shares, he will relax. Your listening helps him unscramble his thoughts and see his situation realistically. And you did not have to say anything!