Take Time to Listen

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Focus

Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for Your servant is listening.’ – I Samuel 3:10

Capture

As a storyteller, I find myself spending a lot of time in research — not trapped in a labyrinth of text in some stuffy library, but rather in the school of life, walking through my world with open eyes and listening ears. I might be driving with the window down and happen to hear something that is out of the ordinary that leads me to an amazing photo. Or I could be sitting in a dimly lit coffee house overhearing someone sharing his story of redemption with a friend, which inspires a script or short story.

Every image I take and every story I film or write has to have both a storyteller and a story listener. But the storyteller only becomes the teller after first having listened him or herself. Even as the tellers, we still have to take time to listen to the finer points of a story before we share it.

Listening helps you identify the subject matter of the story.

Listening helps you feel.

Listening helps you experience the memorable.

Listening helps you connect with people.

It wasn’t always that way for me, because listening takes patience and I’ve been known to be a little impatient. I like brevity, otherwise I check out. Disconnect. Get preoccupied. My eyes may have looked liked I was engaged, but my mind was probably thinking about what I was going to say next or about my next project or deadline. But I’ve learned that if we spend time being the conscious observer and, in this case, the conscious listener, we can capture the simplest of details.

Those details are the juice, the essence of the story… what moves an audience and stirs their souls. And the grandness of life is made up of the small moments we listen for. The same things go for our lives — the things in front of us distract us and tune us out from what God may be saying to us. From morning until night, we fill every moment with tasks we need to complete, information we need to learn, people we need to see, and the remaining gaps of our time we pin, click, post, like, tweet, and Instagram. It’s amazing! To have all of this at one’s fingertips… to be able to communicate and create at times and places our elders would have never dreamed possible. But it’s also amazing how quickly we are sucked in — consumed, distracted, and listening only with a quarter of an ear.

When we are always doing we cannot be always listening. As storytellers, our great hope is that people will want to listen to the stories we tell. As the greatest storyteller of all, I think God hopes the same. His world is filled with his stories, with his Story. Let’s listen so we can tell it better.

Develop

Listen closely to what God is saying amidst the din of your life. Pay attention, concentrating on the literal and figurative details of the stories you feel called to tell.

Ask yourself these questions: In what ways am I a good listener? In what ways am I a terrible listener? If God needed to get a message through to me, would I be paying enough attention to hear it? What are a few ways I can become more aware of the world around me to hear the stories that are whispering, “Tell me…”?

Watch the Video

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Your Turn

Listening can be a challenge for me. How about you? Some days there seems to be so much required of me that I just want to say, “Shush!” But, that’s my selfish response and not the one Jesus calls us to, right? Listening means intentionally slowing down, focusing, and paying attention when we’re used to rushing, going, hurrying, and accomplishing. Consider the Develop questions above and come share your answers with us on our blog! We want to hear from you about listening carefully in our daily lives, to the people around us, in our work lives, with our families, and to our developing story to hear what God may be saying! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

Matt Knisely

Matt Knisely is an Emmy Award winning photojournalist, storyteller, creative director and artist who loves telling stories of the extraordinary in the ordinary. He has been described as “one of the most versatile photojournalists working today,” and has a national reputation for his unique approach to visual storytelling. He is the creative director for Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. Matt's work has won many honors, including the Edward R. Murrow Awards for photography.

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