My parents are, in all honesty, the most kind and selfless people that I know. I’m sure that most people would say that about their parents, but even if my parents weren’t mine, I would still feel the same. They are the type of people who are never too busy to drop everything and take the time to listen to others.
After my dad retired from his job as a feedyard manager a few years back, my parents fulfilled their long-time dream of opening a livestock feed store that we operate from home. It’s not uncommon to walk out to our barn office to find four or five people just chilling around on some couches drinking a Coke and chatting about life. Some days, it seems like more people stop by just to visit than to buy feed—and Mom and Dad wouldn’t have it any other way. My parents are simply good at talking. But, even more important than that, my parents are great at listening.
My mom, in particular, is the kind of person that you just want to open up to. It seems like people are always stopping by or calling just to chit chat. No matter what is going on in her life, Mom is always more concerned with the needs and well-being of others. If I grow up to be half the person that she is, I’ll be doing alright. My mom understands an important concept that fewer and fewer of us seem to grasp—sometimes, people just need to talk.
Are we spending so much time talking that we can’t listen? I’ll be the first to admit that I have been guilty of this. It is easy to think that what’s going on in our lives is the most important. Maybe we won an award, have a new significant other, or had an outstanding performance in last night’s game. Don’t get me wrong, those things are awesome. But do we ever take just a second to hit pause on our voices so someone else can hit play on theirs?
A lot of times, the people who are the last to speak about themselves are the ones who need to say something the most. Communication is a two-way street, folks. If someone looks like they’re having a rough day, ask them about it. If someone has accomplished something really cool, ask them about it. Some people probably aren’t going to open up and tell you their whole life story… but, trust me, it matters to them that you asked. All that it takes is a simple “How are you today?” or “Awesome job last night!” or “How’s your family doing?”
Take the time to find out what’s up in your friends’ lives, ask the quiet girl how her day is going, tell the junior varsity basketball player that he had a nice shot at the game. Give people the chance to gush a little bit about how excited they are or vent about how upset they are or offer them a shoulder to lean on if they're struggling. Friends, it’s easy to be talkers, but it’s vital that we also be listeners. My parents are pretty special, and I just can’t help but wonder how much better our world would be if everyone tried a little harder to be just like them.
Kansas FFA, take the time to listen!