“The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. 1 Samuel 3:1-5
In my family, I often tell my children that not respecting one another bothers me greatly. The most concrete example of not respecting each other is by not listening!
Note: I have all daughters. I fondly recall, when I was pregnant with my twin 8-year-olds, that a friend with two teenage daughters advised us, “Your house will not be quiet for the next 18 years.”
Indeed, my daughters talk a lot. Even my quiet, internal processor talks a lot. When do they talk the most? When someone else is talking!
Lately, I can hear the Holy Spirit telling me to shoo away my children less, stop my task, then listen to my children. Or, if I tell them to let me finish my task, to truly finish and not move onto “one more thing” before giving them my time. My time is precious to me, but guess what? My time is equally precious to them as well.
To help me understand the importance of listening, the Lord recently convicted me to think about how I listen to Him. He led me to a cherished children’s story in the Bible: the calling of Samuel. The usual takeaway is, wait for God to speak to you. This time, however, I began to compare my mothering to both Samuel and Eli’s responses. Do I listen like Samuel or like Eli? I encourage you to take time right now to read all of 1 Samuel 3. Below, I came up with a list describing the two characters.
- young boy
- dedicated to the temple (his parents visit him once per year)
- sleeps near the holy ark of the covenant
- hears the Lord call to him
- immediately runs to Eli to heed his calling. Three times in a row! Samuel does not yet know the Lord (i.e. does not have a personal relationship with Him)
- follows Eli’s instructions
- destined to serve as a prophet and judge of Israel
- the high priest of Israel
- years earlier, could not tell that Samuel’s mother was praying, but accused her of drunkenness
- responsible for Samuel’s spiritual upbringing
- recently judged by the Lord for desecrating the holy sacrifice
- Samuel runs to him three times before he finally realizes the Lord wants to speak to the young boy (i.e. ignores the child!)
- receives a message from Samuel that the House of Eli would be destroyed
Ask yourself the following:
- Who is the authority figure in this relationship?
- Who does the Lord want me to emulate?
- Do I listen more like Samuel or Eli? (Irony: Eli is the adult.)
- Do I listen to the Lord?
- Do I listen to my children?
I can continue to reprimand my children for not listening OR I can:
- Model how to listen to Jesus (see What’s Next)
- Listen to the people around me, not only with my ears, but also with my eyes, mind, and body language.
- Stop focusing on my personal interests to listen to whoever wants my attention.
Spend 15 minutes experiencing a Mary Moment. (Start with a shorter amount of time if you prefer.) Just like Mary sitting before Jesus (Luke 10:38-42), focus on Jesus as the object of your affection. Shoo away any distracting thoughts, especially your to-do list. Listen to Jesus. Focus on Jesus. You’re not emptying your mind or trying to blank it out. Try to not use this time for Jesus to listen to you. Think only about Jesus and wait for Him to speak to you. It’s not easy, but keep trying!