Written by Holly Madden, Director of Chapter Development.

Coffee-Shop-Scene-660x398 (1)Sitting in a local coffee shop on a winter evening, the sound of quiet conversations fill the atmosphere, the perfect backdrop to the smell of coffee and fresh baked pastries. Of course, in my case, the coffee mugs are filled with hot tea instead of java.

Every time I arrive on the scene of one of these common locations, I am always amazed at the number of connections that occur daily in these types of settings. Whether it’s because of the delicious cinnamon rolls or the shared passion for hot drinks, one common element that sits at every occupied table is the desire of each individual to be heard.

We crave connection. For some it may not be in the comfort of a coffee shop, rather the Spirit-filled stands of an NFL Football game, or the glitz and glamour of the nearest shopping mall. Regardless, connections are vital to our growth, faith and existence.

This month, as our local chapters dive into the concept of Refocusing, connections is one of the most commonly addressed topics. Calendars are filled with important dates with family members, loved ones, and best friends. In a society where people are longing to be heard, emphases has been placed on finding the right platform to speak and the audience to speak to. Although our voices were designed to be heard, stewardship would suggest that before we focus on being heard, we should start with learning to listen.

Listening is not just the passive role in the exchange of communication, it is the mostcoffee_shop_conversation important, Spirit-filled piece of our connection with others. With prayer, our personal connection to God, comes the gracious gift of our Daddy God to listen. He hears our complaints, our dreams, our fears, our confessions, our cries for help, and our prayers sent in anger; and He does not demand that we do the same for Him.

Instead, His heart is to take those prayers and speak into them truth, promises, conviction and miracles. And even if the answer takes time to arrive in a world prioritized by time, we can be certain of this, our voice has been heard. “This confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14

With so many seeking out the appropriate place for their voice to be heard, as LeadHers, our focus should instead be first, seeking out opportunities to simply listen. Listen to the dreams of your children, or about your husband’s day. Listen to your co-worker’s recent heartbreak, or your best friends fear about the upcoming test.

Listening is the start to every conversation that is graced with encouragement, love and the presentation of the Gospel. My challenge to you today is to not just hear the words being spoken around you, but to truly listen. Focus on giving value to the people in your life by listening to them, and then let God lead you into the beautiful exchange of a conversation graced with His presence.