The Listening Life (Book Review)


I’ve taken a month to read this book. No, it wasn’t laboriously or begrudgingly. I’m a “read-every-word” kind of reader, and this book demands that every word be chewed on and not just skimmed. If that already turns your head, then you probably don’t need to rush to buy it. On the other hand, maybe you do.

Why? Read the subtitle. See why now?

If you agree attentiveness is hard work these days because of our ever increasing distracting world, then Adam McHugh is talking your language.

“…the fact that we pay millions of dollars annually for people to listen to us indicates our poverty in this arena.”

 “The voices we want to hear are not always the same as the voices we need to hear.” (Chapter 1)

McHugh does an excellent in the first five chapters establishing that this attentive life is grounded in our relationship with God, his Word, and Creation.

“God has absolutely no obligation to pay attention to anyone or anything…The Lord astonishes us and completely flips power on its ear by entering into listening relationships with people.”

“It seems that God’s ear is inclined toward those who themselves are listeners.”

“The Bible should never close us to hearing God’s voice in other venues; rather it ought to open us to recognize it wherever we hear it.”

In the final four chapters McHugh addresses the listening life between humans, those in pain, and listening to your life.

“Trying to fix, judge, rescue or change others are all subtle ways of exerting power over other people.”

“Good listening starts with the scandalous premise that this conversation is not about you.”

“How many conflicts and disagreements start because we think we already understand each other?”

“Listening experts say that only 7% of a person’s meaning is conveyed in the actual words they speak.”

“AHEN: Anger comes from a Hurt, which comes from an Expectation, which comes from a Need”

As a person who has been told many times over the years that I listen well, this book revealed many areas where I need growth. If you know you do also, take the time to read every word in this book. You and everyone in your life will thank you. I’m guessing even God will thank you. Well, most likely you’ll thank him. 

Enjoy your growth.

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