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Thoughts from our team...

The Listener

February 21, 2024

From Wilma Zalabak

Imagine with me. You are in a children’s classroom, and the teacher has asked what game the children would like to play for recess. The room erupts with everyone talking at once. Or you are an adult driving through life with news, ads, talk, and advice continually bombarding your ears with myriad different solutions.


Let me ask you, how much communication is happening? I will answer, Quite a lot, actually. The tones of voice, the animations of face and hand, the eager stances, and the intentional sound bites all communicate. Now I will ask, In either of these two scenes, how much active listening is happening?


After the Bible, my next teaching soapbox is listening. Other ways of naming my kind of listening include attending, gift listening, calm presence, no-agenda listening, and open availability. This will restore or enliven relationships. If you have been longing to restore the first love in your family, you are now looking in the right place for tools of family restoration.


I taught these tools for many years on Franklin Gateway before I got a full schedule of piano lessons. Now my textbook is published, Listenary Listening, and I can offer the course again, or families can buy the book and study it on their own. I would like to teach such a class again, and I wonder if there is anyone willing to try it as a new adventure with me.


This course’s foundation and scope lie in the Gospel of John. There will be homework in reading and interaction in class time. You will fall in love again with Jesus as your primary listener and trainer/coach along this journey to become the healer you always wanted to be.


Here are some questions I get asked as I go about teaching listening. We can call an information meeting to discuss them if you’re interested.

·      If everybody is listening, what do they listen to?

·      What will I do while I’m listening?

·      How can a person listen to someone who won’t talk?

·      No one around me listens to me, so why should I listen to them?

·      What shall I do if family communications have turned surprisingly hostile and divisive in the last few years?


I teach listening to be given as a gift, with no expectation of agreement, persuading, or fixing, while taking care of oneself. I believe that this kind of listening is required for America to be healed from the fear and hate, the destruction and chaos that appear on our screens today.


Someone says, Why would I talk if I don’t expect to persuade or fix? I say, Talk because you feel something needs to be said, talk because someone might hear part of your story and be encouraged or set free, talk because you might learn something about yourself and your beliefs. Listen to help, to heal, to bring freedom to some person, to support freedom in our society.


Perhaps you can see from this that the gift of listening is an effective language of love. Jesus was a surprisingly good listener and often called on people to listen. He said, “Let the person with ears listen.”*


*Paraphrased from Matt 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35; Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22.

If you'd like to contact Wilma about Listenary Listening, email her at


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