As a Home Missions leadership team, we have been focusing on learning to be better listeners over the past several months. There have been a number of great resources we have discovered, including:
- 5 Ways to Listen Better
- A Spirituality of Listening
- The Art of Listening – a reading list
- Juice: The Power of Conversation
- Nature soundscapes reveal environmental devastation – a podcast from CBC Radio
- The Power of Listening
- The Listening Life
In addition to these resources, I recently finished reading “A More Beautiful Question” by Warren Berger. Although I have finished reading it, I will certainly be returning to it frequently in order to hone my skills at asking questions that invite openness, discovery and innovation.
Centered around the broad question categories of “Why?”, “What if?” and “How?”, Berger shows how more beautiful questions can be the key to innovation, change, and being effective in what we are called to do. The book is filled with many anecdotes of how this works, including one highlighting the work of Joel Van Dyke when he was in Philadelphia. (Joel has since gone on to work with CRC World Missions in Guatemala, and is spearheading a new Urban Training Collaborative that is already active on several continents. You may be interested in looking up the book Joel wrote along with Kris Rocke, “A Geography of Grace”).
A unique feature of this book, and one I am finding particularly helpful, is the index of questions at the back. Here Berger lists many of the questions that were asked by those whose stories he tells, and for me, they have opened up a world of wondering.
Asking good, open questions can only be effective if we are good listeners who do not rush to supply our own answers, but listen to how others around us ask and answer the questions. Spending some time dwelling with one or more of the listening resources above, as well as Berger’s book, should pay rich dividends. As leaders, we do need to learn to ask more questions, tell less, and learn to listen well. These resources can help us do just that.