Families, communities, and nations are stronger when children, parents, and teachers learn to listen and listen to learn. In our busy world where most of us are running from one activity to another or spending too much time on social media, it is a good practice to stop and listen to the Spirit, to parents, to spouse, to leaders, to friends, and even to listen to children. When we listen to others, we can learn from them.
In April 1991 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then-Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke on the topic of “Listen to Learn.” In his talk he instructs different groups of people on the importance of learning to listen and then listening to learn.
Parents and teachers, learn to listen, then listen to learn from children…. The time to listen is when someone needs to be heard. Children are naturally eager to share their experiences, which range from triumphs of delight to trials of distress. Are we as eager to listen? If they try to express their anguish, is it possible for us to listen openly to a shocking experience without going into a state of shock ourselves? Can we listen without interrupting and without making snap judgments that slam shut the door of dialogue? It can remain open with the soothing reassurance that we believe in them and understand their feelings. Adults should not pretend an experience did not happen just because they might wish otherwise….
Parents with teenage youth may find that time for listening is often less convenient but more important when your people feel lonely or troubled. And when they seem to deserve favor least, they may need it most.
Wise parents and teachers, listen to learn from children.
In the above quote Elder Nelson tells us that it is important to listen to children. A recent article spoke of how Prince William and Princess Kate are good examples of parents who get down on the child’s level in order to look into their face while giving instructions or listening. There were numerous pictures of either the father or mother kneeling/stooping in order to speak and listen directly.
Elder Nelson, of course, also teaches that it is important for all children to listen to their parents. “Children of all ages, learn to listen, and listen to learn from parents…. Spiritually or physically, it can be a matter of life and death…. Children, honor your parents, even when they cannot give a satisfactory explanation for their feelings…. Parents have a divine duty to teach their children to love the Lord. Children have an equal obligation to `obey [their] parents in the Lord.’ (Eph. 6:1.) Wise children, listen to learn from parents.”
Continuing with his talk, Elder Nelson discusses the importance of listening to our spouse, our neighbors, and Church leaders. He then says: “Above all, God’s children should learn to listen, then listen to learn from the Lord. On several sacred occasions in the world’s history, our Heavenly Father has personally appeared to introduce His divine Son with a specific charge to `hear him.’” Elder Nelson concludes his talk with the following counsel.
Your soul will be blessed as you learn to listen, then listen to learn from children, parents, partners, neighbors, and Church leaders, all of which will heighten capacity to hear counsel from on high.
Carefully listen to learn from the Lord through the still small voice – the Holy Spirit – which leads to truth. Listen to learn by studying scriptures that record His holy mind and will. Listen to learn in prayer, for He will answer the humble who truly seek Him.
The wise listen to learn from the Lord. I testify of Him and certify that as we `hearken and … hear the voice of the Lord,’ we will be blessed, `for the hour of his coming is nigh’ (Doctrine and Covenants 133:16-17)….
When we learn to listen to the people around us – children, spouses, neighbors, leaders – and the Lord, we will be blessed with stronger relationships. When we listen to learn, we will be blessed with greater knowledge. Stronger relationships and greater knowledge among family members, neighbors, and Church members/leaders will bring unity to our midst. When we listen to learn from the Lord, we will gain wisdom and blessings beyond measure. We can strengthen our homes, communities, and nations by learning to listen and listening to learn.