Photo Credit: sabercat, www.sxc.hu

I’m a loyal fan of Apple. I’m enamored with the leadership and visionary skills of Steve Jobs (and his famous Reality Distortion Field). And I’m admiring the great company he has founded, a company that designs and develops near-perfect products that exemplify innovation, simplicity, love for liberal arts and deep understanding of human experiences.

Apple cares for the tiniest detail in their products. They leave no aspect to chance or mediocrity (yes, even the alignment of the resistors). They have a devoted zeal for Zen standards. They are happily and obsessively responsible for their hardware (iPhone, iPad, iPod, iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, MacPro), software (iOS, Mac OS X, iLife), and services (AppStore, iTunes, iCloud). And they execute the three beautifully in an almost religion-like way.

I hope I will not sound mystical here, but if you hold an iPhone on your left hand and a Samsung Galaxy S4 on the right, you’ll feel the difference. Try it, words are not enough to describe the experience.

Why I’m mentioning Apple? I want to equate the genuineness of Apple products to the art of listening. Have you experienced speaking to someone who is ‘not there’? You’re speaking something important and he’s checking tweets. He is saying he understand while his fingers are buried on the screen of his smartphone while playing Candy Crush?

I’m always saddened by this phenomenon: In our technologically connected world, we are somehow unconnected from each other. The dinner experience of most families now are very different decades ago when members of the families communicated with opened hearts, now they are communicating with opened apps. They are on the same table, but they are existing in different places.

Sometimes, I wish that I lived in 15th century with no phone ringing or tweets chirping. And when the water that are soul are thirsting for are not easily ignored – relationships with opened hearts and ears.

But let’s be honest, we can still genuinely listen like our grandfather does. We still have two ears!

If you’re a Christian, listening has much more value. How can others listen to our message when we’re not willing to listen? If something said or written are not from the Bible, we dismissed it as ‘worldly’, unbelievers are ‘hearing’ our insensitivities to their concerns so they set the score by labeling our message as ‘churchy’, ‘corny’, or ‘just-a-typical-cult-campaign’.

In a world full of opinions and religions, the loudest are not the ones who are heard but the ones who understand others before saying anything. We’re not an organization with the goal of coercing the world to swallow our belief, we are God’s people called to share the gospel in love. And the first duty of love is to listen.

If you’re a parent you must listen genuinely to your children not just pesters them with Gatling gun-like firing of ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not’ commands. Even you’re right and in authority, your children will not automatically respect your precepts. They are not robots programmed to obey your commands, they are human beings formed by love to be cared and guided with love.

Children are craving for your attention not just your provisions. A happy home is not an institution filled with rules and commands, it’s a haven filled with love and understanding. And that home you ever wanted is not possible when you’re choosing to close your ears every day.

If you’re a teacher, maybe the best thing you can do at the beginning of the next class is to listen before your sharing your intelligence. Always remember that a teacher is not just in a mission of educating, a teacher is also called in the mission of inspiring the next generation of leaders. Teaching is not just a profession of knowledge, it’s also a profession of love. Listen well. Teach well.

Listen. Maybe for the first time, you’ll hear the real words of their hearts.

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