The Lost Art of Listening


Dear Reader:

For all the thirty plus years I taught in the classroom and made presentations I was always aware of the number of participants not really listening…even when they pretended to hear. For teachers, everywhere, it is an on-going problem and cause for much frustration.

But then, when we remove ourselves from the classroom…do we do any better…listening to others in our daily lives?

President Franklin Roosevelt was known for his ready grin and his boisterous personality…but even he, a President, discovered that people aren’t really listening in long reception lines to shake his hand. So he decided to play a little trick on his guests one evening.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt got tired of smiling that big smile and saying all the usual things at those White House receptions. So, one evening he decided to find out whether anybody was paying attention to what he was saying. As each person came up to him with extended hand, he flashed his big smile and said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.”

People would automatically respond with comments such as “How lovely.” or “Continue on with your great work.” Nobody listened to what he was saying, except for one foreign diplomat. When the president said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning,” the diplomat responded softly, “I’m sure she had it coming to her.

“It’s a funny story, but how often do we do the same? It seems that we have lot’s to say but we are not very good at listening. Think about it — how many language, speech and speaking courses can you find in your college course book? But can you find even one class on listening??


There is such a lack of good listening skills in this day and age that we have to pay someone a lot of money just to listen to us! More importantly, God has many things He desires to reveal to us — but we’re always talking, talking, talking!

Let’s strive to do less talking and more listening today. Let’s give the Lord and others a chance to be heard.

So guess what readers? God must have found this theme just for me to write on because my word for 2017 is LISTEN! REALLY LISTEN!

Ambika…at first I was thinking about the word TRUST too…and that is an area I could use improvement on this year. But I think listening takes priority over it.

I do listen and I think I am taking in most of what is being said….but I also realize, upon retrospect, that I am searching for an appropriate response more than listening to the speaker’s intent.

If I am doing that with my fellow man, friends and family, then what about God? This can’t be good…I am telling him about my problems, goals, hopes, and dreams…but then not staying quiet enough to hear what God’s response is to me.

In my one feeble defense, however, it is just not listening for an appropriate response that sometimes deters me from listening as deeply as I should…I am a “connection” nerd. My mind looks for connections everywhere…so if I hear another speaker mention anything or anybody…my mind is already trying to connect it to a little story I know or a joke, a quote, or line from a movie, or passage from a book…it is just the way my brain works.

There is another problem that we humans face, however, and that is knowing who and what to listen to as wise commentary and who not to listen to …because of the broken dreams these ‘advisers’ can impart upon us.


This is where we need God’s intervention to guide us to the right ‘sages’ we come across in our journey…

So until tomorrow…God give us the wisdom to know which advice is the right one…the one sent by You directly or by a messenger sent by You. Show us the way.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Janet Bender: My word for 2017 is “renewal.” It’s not as beautiful as last year’s “treasure,”but I’m not arguing with the One who spoke it into my heart.

One of our newest blog readers, Lynn from British Columbia, sent in her word with an acronym! Thanks for sharing Lynn!

Loved this blog today. My word for this year would be HOPE. As I think about this I’m also filled with thanks for the H — Heritage God has given O–opportunities that come every day to bless others; P–problems that come along every day to refine us E– expectation of an abundant life today and always when we “walk with the Lord in the light of His Word”. Blessings, Lynn from Aldergrove, British Columbia, Canada

Michele Robertson made a word from Jeff’s sermon Sunday (Dorchester Presbyterian Church) her “perfect word” for this year.

*Becky, I,  too have been searching for my word of the year. Yesterday in Jeff’s sermon he told a story about visiting at MUSC last weekend.( I apologize if you were there and I am repeating this). He met a man in the elevator and had a conversation with him outside in the beauty of God’s glory.)

This gentleman was a patient (in a wheelchair) who lived with cystic fibrosis. As you may or may at not know, CF patients don’t usually live past the age of 30-40. This man was 60 and thriving!!  Jeff was specifically talking about the light that is inside each of us and how we need to look for the light in others. He was definitely illuminated by this man’s light! As their conversation wrapped up, Jeff shook his hand and told him his name. The gentleman then told Jeff his name was “TROG”. He said his friends called him that-because that’s how he lives his life. TROG-Totally reliant on GOD!! I love it!
I have to say that a tear might have slipped from my eye-joined by many others. This gentlemen did nothing without trusting and relying on God-each and everyday of his life. So much so that his friends actually NAMED him this!! Hence he made it to 60-beating the numbers and odds for his life expectancy. He said he sat down with God and said, “now that I’ve made it to sixty, what are you going to do with the next half of my life , God?” What an awesome and inspiring light-giver!!
So Jeff challenged us all to be “TROGS” in our lives-receiving God’s light and spreading it everywhere we go.
*Just had an email from Mandy….they are starting back home after their family’s mid-winter “retreat” too with the children at Disney. Mandy said they had a blast and sent these adorable photos.


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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5 Responses to The Lost Art of Listening

  1. ambikasur says:

    Wow, Becky… I agree with your word today… Listening is more important for our lives… Probably that’s what makes the verse, Be still, my soul: and KNOW that He is God. Listening is the foundation of our trust in God, I guess ..


  2. Anthony Bong says:

    Preaching a message of the labor of listening and came across your blog. Thank you for the humorous story of president Roosevelts’ handshake greeting and for taking the time to write the blog. I plan on using the president’s story as my sermon illustration and plan to give you credit for my now new sermon title, “The Lost Art of Listening!”. =) God bless!


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Like Rudyard Kipling so aptly commented: “If history were taught in the form of stories it would never be forgotten” and that is what I did for almost three decades to 8th graders…it is also what Jesus knew too,,,humans remember stories with feeling and emotion and not cold hard facts! Good luck with the sermon and thank you for the compliment!!!! I wish I could hear it…but will be there in spirit- Becky


    • Becky Dingle says:

      How did the sermon go….were they “listening”??? 🙂 If so you should have gotten some good chuckles ! 🙂 🙂


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