Listening at the Nursing Home

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
James 1:19 NLT

When my wife and I were learning Portuguese, from our friends at the Brazilian church where we served on staff, we found that listening was key. We had to be quiet and pay close attention as people were speaking. Another fun way was to join in as we saw the words for the worship songs, heard others singing around us and finally a tiny bit at a time ventured to join them with our own voices. Then, little by little, as we increased our vocabulary and improved our dreadful accents, we were able to enter into conversations with our friends.

The same kind of listening is important when serving in a long-term care facility. It does little good and sometimes much harm, to simply come in with all of our own ideas of what we think the people need. Life in long-term care, whether it is assisted living, memory care or a traditional skilled nursing facility is an entirely different world from living in our neighborhood. Just as when we were learning Portuguese, it is hard for most of us to be quiet long enough to hear what the people, who God has sent us to serve, are saying. In spite of the fact that we have two ears and one mouth, I find that talking is far easier than taking time to listen. But only listening long enough to know the hearts of our dear friends will teach us how to share the message of the love of Jesus Christ in a language that they can understand! So, lets close our mouths more and open our ears wider and ask God to help us to listen. Only then will we be able to know what to say, when God calls us to share with others the message of the hope of Jesus Christ.

5 thoughts on “Listening at the Nursing Home

  1. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. And think of how a baby learns to speak… by listening, hearing and imitating. Lessons for our prayer lives.
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

  2. Good point, Pete! When I first started visiting nursing homes, what bothered me most was thinking I should talk and not knowing what to say. Now I know there was probably a reason for that – I wasn’t supposed to say ANYthing. :/

    • Asking questions, then taking time to listen to their answers, helps know better what to say. The problem with much “nursing home ministry” is that it either is, being asked to pray with a family at the last hour as a loved one is passing, or canon shot type visits, that fly in and out so quickly that we don’t get to know people. Every wheelchair has a story, a family, individual problems and a unique faith journey.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s