We need to value and love people for themselves – seeing the image of God in them, no matter what their situation. We need to value what they have to share and their ability to understand their situations. We should give people confidence to look at themselves and their situation by listening to their views. We should not judge other people or make decisions for them. Instead we need to respect their potential and help them make decisions themselves.

The church should not expect poor people to come to them. Like Jesus, we need to go out into our community and build relationships of understanding and trust with those who are suffering. We must understand the real issues that people face in their lives. We should develop listening skills to use both within the church and the community. It takes skill to put people at ease and encourage them to share their feelings and discuss issues. Good listening can help people voice their needs and priorities too. Our own views and feelings must be put aside while we really listen and understand their situations.

These processes usually take a very long time, and much patience, humility and prayer is needed. Skills in listening can be developed as we change our own attitudes and beliefs about others.

Discussion
  • When talking to people, do we really listen to what they are saying or are we preparing what we are going to say next?
  • Read Philippians 2:1-11.
    • Are members of our church in agreement over all the major issues that affect our church?
    • We read in verses 3 and 4 about how we need to think of others as better than ourselves. How do we do this as individuals? How do we do this as a church?
  • Reflect on how much it cost Jesus to give his life for us. What was his ultimate reward?
  • Do we assume we know better than others, particularly those who are poor or who are seen as of little importance by society?
  • When people come to us for advice, are we always able to give them good advice? Do we ever try to encourage them to make their own decisions about what to do?
  • How can we help each other to become better listeners?