Listening is Honoring

Advice Column


Have you read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?

In one scene of that wonderful book, four children are living with a professor they’ve only just met. The siblings were sent to his home in the English countryside during Operation Pied Piper, which relocated kids away from cities being bombed during World War II.

Two of the children, Peter and Susan, are concerned that their little sister, Lucy, has lost the ability to discern reality from imagination. They go to the professor to ask him what they should do. What transpires is a masterclass in honoring others through listening.

“So they went and knocked at the study door, and the Professor said “Come in,” and got up and found chairs for them and said he was quite at their disposal.

Then he sat listening to them with the tips of his fingers pressed together and never interrupting till they had finished the whole story.

After that, he said nothing for quite a long time.

Then he cleared his throat and said the last thing either of them expected: “How do you know,” he asked, “that your sister’s story is not true?”

Is the professor a class act, or what? I reflect on what he did.

1. He made time for them.

The professor invited the children into his study, welcoming them with his words and actions. I imagine how special the small children must have felt when the professor found chairs for them. 

2. He allowed them to speak.

The professor listened intently, giving the children his focused attention. He did not interrupt. I picture the way all of us, especially young kids, can ramble when we are sharing something excitedly. I can imagine the kids doing this and the professor not rushing them but allowing them to completely finish. 

3. He paused.

The professor didn’t jump in the minute it was his turn. He was thoughtful and patient. 

4. He asked a thoughtful question.

The professor showed respect to the children by asking them a question rather than telling them what to do. He also honored the little girl whose mental health was being questioned by giving her the benefit of the doubt that she was telling the truth.

    I want to be more like the professor, don’t you?

    Make time. Listen carefully. Take it slow. Ask thoughtful questions that respect all who are involved. That’s a beautiful model.

    Friend, what is one of your favorite lessons from a real or fictional story in your life? I’d love to hear about it!

    With love,



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