How to Listen to the Heart

BCC StaffFor Those Giving Help5 Comments


Listen, ask, look – these three essentials help you hear the heart of a hurting person. When you hear the heart like Jesus, you give compassionate, effective counseling.

Essential 1: Listen

To help the hurting, you need to learn about your counselee. There are two simple, but critical aspects to gathering the necessary information. The first is the ability to listen. Proverbs 18:2 and 13 state: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion,” and, “If anyone gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

Through listening you discover what the counselee understands to be the problem, how it began, and why it is continuing.

Essential 2: Ask

The second critical aspect is the ability to ask wise questions.

The purpose of a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. Proverbs 20:5 

Here the art of asking skillful questions will help you to dredge out the nuances of the counselee’s problem.

Skillful questions begin with those that establish the facts of the problem. Questions that begin with “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” and “How” is the place to start. These types of questions establish the facts about the counselee’s circumstances.

Refrain from beginning with “Why” questions. They’re appropriate only after you have established the facts because “why” questions are subjective. If you start with them you can become derailed in your counseling process because you’re trying to understand a problem from the counselee’s perspective that is tainted.

Essential 3: Look

Another aspect of gathering information is looking at the counselee’s heart. Remember Proverbs 20:5 talks about the heart as being like a deep, dark pool of water where the bottom can’t be seen. So how do you draw out the purposes of the heart? How do you see it?

Remember: EACH

Here is a helpful acronym that helps penetrate the depth and darkness of the heart – EACH.

E: Emotions

A: Actions

C: Convictions

H: History and Habits

The letter E stands for the counselee’s emotions that result from the problem. The A stands for the counselee’s actions or responses to the problem. The letter C stands for the counselee’s convictions or beliefs about the problem. And the letter H actually has two implications, the first being the counselee’s life history and the second is the counselee’s current habits.

By listening and asking appropriate questions indicates that you care, but by looking deep in the counselee’s heart also communicates you care. Compassionate care helps your counseling key into God’s perfect and good plan.

Biblical Counseling Center offers compassionate counsel to those in need of guidance through many of life’s common struggles. Our mission: equpping the local church to do the work of discipling and counseling for its people, by its people based solely on the sufficiency of Scripture. We accomplish this through training, resources and counseling.

We listen to counselees in person and by Skype. We also offer online and onsite training for church leaders at every level. Please contact us with your questions, comments, and concerns.

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5 Comments on “How to Listen to the Heart”

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