The Art of Deep Listening: Learn to Listen on a Level You Didn’t Know Was Possible with Cheryl Scanlan, MCC

Apr 11, 2024


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Today’s episode is a masterclass in deep listening from executive coach, Cheryl Scanlan, a master certified coach and founder of Promised Land Living. Cheryl has trained more than 3,000 coaches and has 15,000 hours of coaching experience. Her ability to hear the hearts of her clients is unparalleled and consistently leads to dramatic growth and change.

In this conversation, she shares her secrets to deep listening with us, speaking directly to us, as missionaries. This is an episode you’ll want to listen to on repeat.



Ways to Connect With Cheryl Scanlan

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Transcript From the Episode

Welcome to Modern Day Missionaries, a podcast by Modern Day. Missions created for missionaries by missionaries. I’m your host, Stephanie Gutierrez Today, we get a masterclass in deep listening from executive coach Cheryl Scanlan. She’s a master certified coach and the founder of Promised Land Living. I have never met anyone with listening skills as honed as Cheryl. And in this conversation, she shares her secrets with us. And it’s an episode you’ll want to listen to on repeat, pun intended. 

[00:00:35] Stephanie: Welcome to this episode of the Modern Day Missionaries podcast. Today I am overjoyed to have my friend Cheryl Scanlan with us. Cheryl welcome.

[00:00:45] Cheryl: I’m so glad to be with you today, Stephanie and all of your friends. 

[00:00:49] Stephanie: Cheryl is a master certified coach, and she’s the founder of Promised Land Living. She has personally trained over 3,000 coaches with experience that exceeds 15,000 hours of coaching experience. Cheryl, that is a lot of coaching hours! And that’s in addition to the many clients she coaches through her executive coaching.

I’ve been coached by her, and There is nobody on earth like Cheryl. Uh, she’s a natural teacher and she has an incredible coach training program where coaches can receive mentor coaching. I met her actually when I was at school at Professional Christian Coaches Institute, which is where I did my training.

She used to be the provost there, which is a great coaching school, by the way, if it’s something that you’re ever looking into. And then Promised Land Living, which I mentioned earlier, uh, is something I’ve been a part of. And it is. Life altering, and sometimes those words are thrown around lightly, but I use it very intentionally.

It’s a group coaching experience that really leans into spiritual formations. You’re doing spiritual formation in the context of group coaching with about, you know, six to 10 other people. And I wish, I wish everybody could take part of this at some point in their lives. We’re going to tell you how later on, definitely think you should sign up.

I can say I am not the same person since going through it. So make sure to listen all the way through so you can hear about what Promised Land Living is. But Cheryl, one of the things people most remark about you when they’ve been in a coaching session or even in conversation with you is the insane ability you have to listen deeply and hear what’s being said under the surface.

You listen like no one I know. Everyone in our group coaching experience is the very same. There were so many moments where you would look at me and you would ask a question that was exactly what I was thinking. It’s, It’s crazy. And because you are such a good listener, a listener, probably like no one I know, that was what I asked you to come on and talk with our listeners about today is how to cultivate that deep type of listening.

And that begins with something that you taught us in Promised Land Living, and that’s discovering our default listening style, looking at closed and open listening, but digging in a little bit more into our default listening style. And so we’re going to get into that today. Uh, because you know, As missionaries and as ministry leaders, I think that we often find ourselves in fix it mode or in teaching mode.

There’s so many times I know I have caught myself listening as fast as I can, so I can just get to the bottom line, fix the problem, go as fast as we can because there’s so much to do. There’s so many problems. There’s, it just feels like a lot and it can be hard sometimes to really listen, but there is a better way and it’s a better way for us.

And better for those we serve. Sometimes we focus on how it’s better just for those we serve, but it really is better for us as well. And you’re going to get into that as well. So get ready to find out what your default listening style is or styles are and where to go from there. But first, Cheryl, I just want to ask, have you always been this brilliant listener where you just born a brilliant listener?

[00:03:48] Cheryl: Goodness. No Stephanie, no. And actually the listening, um, did not come first. Um, I, I, look, I like to describe listening as a go slow to go fast skill, and as you’re describing these missionaries being in this environment where they have to move from one thing to the next and they’re trying to solve problems and they’re trying to resolve things as quickly as they can, that is the exact opposite of what this deeper listening is that you’re putting forth for us to consider, uh, in entails.

The reality is we have to go back two steps. So in order for us to listen in a new way that is transformative for both the receiver and the giver, right, it first involves how we’re observing in that moment. And at it. One of the things that I will do even to this day, uh, Stephanie, is I will go into the airport where I used to spend a lot of time, not so much anymore.

Or I’ll sit outside the parking lot at Whole Foods or whatever, and I will people watch. And my goal in the people watching is to literally observe as many things as I can about that person while suspending all possible judgment. So it’s observing at, in as at a, as at, in and as objective way. Ooh, that’s a, uh, tongue twister, listening or observing objectively.

So that we can get to the next step, which is to be genuinely curious without being assumptive in our curiosity, but it really backs up to how are we observing? What are we observing before we even get to how are we interpreting what we’re observing?

[00:05:37] Stephanie: So you turned people watching at the airport into a learning activity. I love it. ’cause I like people watching. 

[00:05:44] Cheryl: It’s wonderful. And so, you know, one time I, I remember one particular time a woman came out of, um, the store, I’ll just say a store. And she had two bags. She did not, and they were heavy bags. It was apparent that they were heavy bags by the way she was carrying them, and it wasn’t as though she was frail.

So there was, she had some strength. She was probably about in her mid forties, and there was this rushed urgency about her. And I thought, Hmm, she’s carrying the two bags. She doesn’t have the cart. I’m wondering if the reason she’s carrying the two bags is because she’s in a hurry to get someplace and the cart would’ve taken her more time to be able to get to the car.

I didn’t know, but that’s just one tiny little example of my observation. Hurry, carrying heavy bags. A woman who could handle the weight and yet. It’s a lot of weight and she’s rushing. So what’s behind that? And I, I didn’t know the answer to that, you know, in, in the middle of that.

I don’t know the answer to that. But as I followed her to the car and she opens up the car the way she put it in the bags, she slammed that car door fast. She went in and she peeled off. So at that point, I’m saying, I wonder, she must be in a hurry to go somewhere. Or is she really in a hurry or is she aggravated about something or is there a conversation she has to have that she doesn’t want to have?

And so as I allow my mind to now expand what I’m seeing in terms of hurry, I start to be able to, instead of creating sort of this assumptive decision about what I’ve seen, it opens up now the next phase of listening, which is curiosity. What’s prompting the hurriedness is the hurry. This coming out of, uh, a negative energy is the hurriedness coming out of a sense of urgency is a hurry.

So it just literally leads you to a world of now being able to engage with someone and get to know them very quickly because you went slow on that observation side.

[00:07:50] Stephanie: And what’s so interesting about what you’re saying is that woman had not said a single word. So often we think of listening and we just think of listening to what people say, but you’re talking about listening before a word is ever spoken. I.

[00:08:06] Cheryl: Yes. Oh my goodness. I believe, and oh, this could potentially be very helpful to your missionaries. This is really cool how you’re drawing this out. Stephanie. oh, I hope they can hear this. I’m getting emotional. If you could suspend all sense of hurriedness, all sense of agenda, all sense of having to get to the next thing for two minutes and be fully present to whoever’s in front of you.

Eye contact, eyeball to eyeball, kneecap to kneecap, whatever that may be, and you literally allow yourself to be consumed by. That person, you’ll receive so much data, which will then regulate your responses to them. But we miss those first two minutes because we look at it as just pleasantries, and we’re trying to get past all that so we can get to what we really need to do.

And the reality is those first two minutes set the stage for an incredibly beautiful, meaningful, deep conversation.

[00:09:08] Stephanie: So looking or listening first begins with seeing.

[00:09:12] Cheryl: Yes, there is a old African, um, phrase, and I think I’m gonna butcher it, but I’ll share it with you here. It’s called sawubono, you can look it up, but this is some African tribes. When a person from another tribe or is entering back into the tribe comes to the edge of that tribe. They will stand there and they will wait for a person from the tribe to come to them and say, sawubono.

And what that phrase means is, I see you and until you see me, I am not seen. And so when we allow ourselves to engage in those first two minutes vitally with suspending all necessary. on our end, and we allow ourselves a posture of sawubono, which is, I see you, we are now allowing that other person to enter into an incredible opportunity for for us to both receive.

[00:10:21] Stephanie: And you said both receive, and that’s important because so often when we think of listening, well, I think we think of what is, what is it that I have to give to somebody else? Like I am listening Well, because I want to help you and there is truth to that. But what you are pointing out right now, Cheryl, is that there is a gift for us to receive.

[00:10:42] Cheryl: Oh my goodness. There is, and, and if you think about it, and forgive me missionaries, if I am stating this wrong, um, you probably have quite a sense of responsibility to the people that are in front of you. You are on mission, so to speak, as a result of that. Responsibility. One of the things Stephanie and I were talking about is, John Mark Comer’s, written several books, ruthless Elimination of Hurry and some other things, and he talks about how when we’re in a state of leadership, and I just learned this from Stephanie, when we’re in a leadership, in a sense, we’re on a stage, and as soon as we’re on a stage, it now creates the opportunity for some deforming of us as a person because now we have a persona that we’re starting to sta step into, and that persona begins to shape the person behind it.

In a sense that creates a deformation of me. And so when I enter into even those first two minutes, this is so practical that is helping me to be reformed, recast into myself as an image bearer of Christ, rather as one who is responsible for something in this relationship. Dare I say, I might be taking more responsibility than is even required because I don’t even know what’s on the other side and what is required until I get to hear from you.

So I start to act into and potentially act inappropriately by presuming and assuming I start to become assumptive in terms of what I think you need. And at that point, you are no longer a person, you are a project. And that breaks down that fractures relationship so quickly, and this is what I am so passionate about in the body of Christ.

For us to stop that with one another. To begin to enter into real engagement with one another where I am so vulnerable that I’m able to declare to you. I don’t know what you’d need. I don’t know what you’re bringing to the conversation, and I have no idea what I’m gonna be able to offer to you. But here’s what I know that I want to engage vitally with you right now, and that’s all I need to know.

[00:13:05] Stephanie: Hmm. So loss of relationship, loss of the, the gift that somebody has to bring to us are just a few of the things that we have to lose when we operate in a, you’ll talk about this more in a second, in a closed listening style or in just in a non-receptive space. 

What else do people have to lose when they don’t learn how to listen well?

[00:13:27] Cheryl: I was just on the phone with a client today who wants to learn how to listen better, and he said, Cheryl, I believe I care about people, but when I leave that conversation, I can’t remember anything about them. And the reality is what I, what I’m realizing is what I care about is what’s gonna, what the outcome of that conversation is.

I don’t really care about the person. And so my question then is, well then what do we lose? First of all, we’re lying to ourselves because we’re saying we care, but we don’t. We really don’t. So we lose something. In the mere fact that we have, again, that deforming of ourselves, we have created a persona to drive an agenda to achieve an outcome, which may be so far from really what the Holy Spirit is doing, because we weren’t allowed to in the moment. 

Listen, last night I’m gonna tell on myself. Um, we had, we had two of our, so, you know, I, I founded this organization Promised Land Living. And we had this rare situation where two of our coach presenters in training are so far along in their own development that we just let them run the whole group.

We’ve never done this before, and so the coach, presenter, director, and myself are kind of sitting back and, and they’re leading the group and they’re, and it was some of the most meaningful, deep exchange and Stephanie. I realized that as much as this is important to me, my own agenda was preventing this kind of meaningful, deep exchange.

I was losing sight of the very thing that was most important to me. And being with, um, Amy and Anne last night brought it all back to me. So the reality is, any one of us at any time, no matter how much we feel like we’re an expert or we’re not an expert at this, the reality is any time our personal agenda trumps Holy Spirit opportunity, we’re gonna lose something.

And I would’ve lost, and our community would’ve lost. This group would’ve lost last night because I couldn’t help myself. My agenda would’ve taken over the evening.

[00:15:48] Stephanie: Wow. What a pertinent example and the fact that no matter how good we get at listening, it’s still a challenge. I mean, Cheryl, I know a bit of your personality from the time we spent together, and I think some people are kind of wired with that. Just, um, that personality that loves to listen and sit quietly.

But I know you, you are a driver. You are a mover and a shaker. You’re an executive coach like you, you have how many businesses and organizations. I have to guess that listening isn’t something that most people with your personality type are naturally wired to do.

[00:16:27] Cheryl: Well, you know, everybody listens. But the question is, what are we listening to and what are we listening for, right? So I’ve learned that there’s these multiple voices. We, we live in this three-dimensional world, but the reality is we are spirit. And so First Thessalonians tells us to pray without ceasing.

Well, how could I possibly be talking to you and pray at the same time? Well, that’s another dimension. That’s that spiritual dimension that can be running concurrently, right? So at any one time, I’m hearing, like in this moment I’m listening to Stephanie, I’m watching her body language, I’m listening to myself.

I’m trying to manage myself and calibrate to the energy in the room and what I sense might be going on for you, and I’m listening for God and what he might be saying, and in a, in a very strange way, even though I can’t see you audience. I’m listening for your voice. You know, we talked a little, the very first question I had for Stephanie was, who am I talking to?

And I wanna know, what is your concern? What’s going on for you? So literally in this conversation, there are four voices going on in my mind simultaneously. So it takes time to listen. Now, here’s what happens. When I’m in my executive, um, driven state, there’s only room for one voice. mine. And the only thing I wanna hear from you is, yes, ma’am.

No ma’am. And the only thing I wanna hear from God is, yep. You go, you go, Cheryl, you got this, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You see what I’m saying? So we’re always listening, but the problem is where am I giving preeminence to a particular voice

[00:18:17] Stephanie: Mm

[00:18:17] Cheryl: and which voice needs to have preeminence at any particular time?

[00:18:23] Stephanie: So Cheryl, what are some of the things you do when everything in you, and maybe thinking back to earlier when you were becoming a good listener. ’cause now I be, 

I know it’s become so instinctive, but what do you do when everything in you wants to say something? Or when that Cheryl voice feels louder than the other voices?

How do you quiet that voice to be able to hear what else is going on?

[00:18:46] Cheryl: That’s a great question, and I hope I can make this very practical for everyone. The first is, if I notice that I’m interrupting someone, I have a problem. So that’s a first sign for us to pull back a little bit and to think about what is my posture of listening right now. Do I really need to interrupt this person?

Am I in that much of a rush that I can’t even let them finish their sentence? You know? Um, my coach, presenter, director, Pam, she sits on a board, uh, a national board that works with the medical professions and, um, she’s been trained to help them to see. How she asked the question, how long if you get, let a patient talk until they’re done and they’ve shared everything that they wanna share, how long do you think it will be before they stop talking?

And I’m gonna misquote the actual number, but it’s like 72 seconds.

[00:19:45] Stephanie: Wow.

[00:19:46] Cheryl: And yet a physician will on average interrupt a patient after about 16 or 17 seconds.

So the question that I was left with, with that is, if I’m interrupting you, I’m missing something that you need to say because what I feel like I have to say is too important.

And yet, what do I have to say? How, how do I know it’s even gonna connect to what you’re saying yet let you finish? So that’s the first step is our posture of managing ourself. Not interrupting and letting that person have their whatever it is, 72 or 92 seconds. Just let them have it. And that’s that.

Remember I was talking about that first minute to two minutes of a conversation? It ties beautifully into that. Here’s the second thing.

Don’t start your response. With a statement that ends in a period or an exclamation point, when you respond to someone, respond with a question so that you are literally, you are letting them know with a second round, my focus is on you, my attention is on you. I’m listening to you, and if the question is hard to form, then restate what you are hearing them say very succinctly again, because that’s gonna let that person know, okay, we are lined up with one another.

Oftentimes with leaders, and you as a missionary are viewed as a leader, people are turning to you for answers, for guidance, for direction. You’re like a spiritual director for everyone who’s around you. And so if, if they come to you with, with anything, with a problem, whatever, whatever’s going on, and you were to say, it sounds like you are struggling with this idea right now.

It sounds like you have some ideas about what you wanna do, but you’re doubting yourself. Um, I get the sense that you need a little time to talk about this. Um, it seems like this is something you’ve thought about for several weeks, but you haven’t been able to get to a resolve, whatever. Literally mirroring back that is gonna help them to relax in their seats, and before you even offer them a solution or a suggestion, they’re probably already gonna start to have some ideas.

And I’ll prove this to you because you just became a lifeline for them instead of an answer for that. And so often I would lose my keys or I couldn’t find my purse, and I, Tom was my lifeline, so I would literally call him up and because I knew I couldn’t think clearly, and I was really scared, and he’d get on the phone and say hello, and I said, nevermind.

I just found them. Thank you so much for helping me out. Why? Because I had my lifeline, 

because slowed my mind down enough that I could think. When you make that reflection or you ask that gentle question, you are slowing their mind down enough in the context of one anothering so that they could think, and ministry has already begun.

[00:23:01] Stephanie: That’s beautiful and it it, so speaking of listening to the other voices, as you mentioned earlier as I was listening to you talk about that first example you gave from Pam and the medical profession. I know considering the different cultures people live in, I’m imagining some of our listeners going, no, Cheryl, you don’t understand. The people that I listen to don’t talk for 72 seconds. They’re not in this American mindset. They’re talking for 20 minutes without breathing. And I’ve been a part of those types of conversations and so I know what that feels like. And I’m sure I’ve been on the other side too, where I’ve had plenty to say. 

And so what you’re not suggesting is that people abandon all boundaries and just sit and you know, listen for forever and ever without saying anything. And I know because I’ve been a part of your group coaching, you’re not afraid to jump in at a precise moment. And that’s where I see you really utilizing the Holy Spirit’s voice because there is a time to jump in. But I think. I think you do it for the person’s benefit, like tell me about how you would jump in with someone who is talking for a prolonged period of time for their benefit.

[00:24:06] Cheryl: So we’ve heard of the fruit of the spirit, and part of that fruit of the spirit is kindness and goodness. And kindness is giving someone something that is undeserving and you’re just being kind to ’em. Goodness is giving them something that is in their highest and best interest. And so in a moment where we experience a lengthy conversation or lengthy one-sided conversation with someone, and it feels like a bit of a drone, there is an opportunity for goodness to be manifested kindness.

First, you let them have the floor and speak, and then goodness, you’re thinking what is in their highest and best, uh, interest at this time? And so in that moment I might do something like this. ’cause we all get caught in story. 

And the reality is sometimes when we get caught in story, it turns into Pete and repeat.

Rinse and repeat. And in fact, that’s not even good for our mind because now we’re continuing to program in our mind the story that we’re caught in, and we don’t know how to pull ourselves out of that. So one of the, one of the times that I will jump into a person’s, uh, conversation is when I see them starting to repeat, repeat themselves.

So either they’re caught in the story or they don’t have a direction that they’re trying to take it. So that’s, that’s kind of my first sign. How I will interrupt them is something like, um, may I interrupt you for just a moment? And I’m, I’m letting them know it’s just a moment. ’cause I don’t wanna take this away from them.

Nobody’s gonna say no. What they may do is say, let me finish this one thought, and then you can’t. So that might happen at that point. I will make the observation. I will use the exact same skill I was sharing with you before. I noticed that you are experiencing some agitation around this. I’m wondering, what would you like to see come out of this conversation?

What is your desired outcome from this? Or I might ask in terms of our dialoguing, what do you need from me right now? Do you need me to just listen? Do you want us to have some banter about this? What would be most beneficial to you? And in that moment, I’m letting them figure that out for themselves. So I’m, I’m tapping into their self-agency.

I’m shortcircuiting the, the, um, skipping record right there. And I’m giving us an opportunity to say, I’m here, I am with you. 

[00:26:33] Stephanie: There are even versions of that. I mean, you, you’re sharing a very professional, uh, leadership style of that, but there’s versions of that We can even say to our own family members or friends, I think of all the time I’ve been sitting down with my daughters and, or, or with my husband or with friends, and you, someone starts sharing something and you’re wondering. What would you like from me in this scenario? And like you can say, Hey, do you want me to just hear you out? Like, are you just wanting to share this and just get this off your chest? Let’s do it. Or are you wanting some ideas? Are you wanting to brainstorm some things out? How have you used this in relationships, uh, outside of professional ones?

[00:27:09] Cheryl: Stephanie, I think you just set it up so well. Which is to help the person you’re talking, to start to create a, a framework or a context for the conversation because you don’t have one. And if we’re listening to someone speaking for a long time and we haven’t contextualize that conversation, we don’t know how to interact with it.

And so it does start to feel like a drone, but if it’s contextualized, then we know how to engage. Those in that conversation, in the way that we listen. So we’re doing the other person, uh, we’re respecting the other person, and we’re respecting ourselves. When we, when we create that opportunity to contextualize the conversation and do it in a kind way, like don’t do it the way I’ve done it with my husband, which is honey, will you just bottom line it for me and then you can gimme all the details.

Although he does tolerate it now, because he knows I have five minutes between calls and he has something he needs to get to me. However, we will also have those times where it’s the long lingering, especially when we go for walks. Tom and I go for three or four-mile walks every single day, and we also, and so those are kind of our meandering conversations, which are beautiful for both of us.

But then here’s the other kind Stephanie that just came to my mind. And that is the jump up and down with me moments. So you’ve just had something happen. And you know Stephanie is definitely a jump-up-and-down kind of gal. She knows how to celebrate. Oh my goodness. You cannot be with Stephanie and not have a smile.

So if you want someone to celebrate with you, you need to call Stephanie. But there are those moments where I don’t need you to fix anything. I don’t need you to do anything. I just need you to jump up and down with me. And we call those jump up and down moments.

[00:28:55] Stephanie: I love that. Okay. What if we were to flip the switch? The switch as a speaker who is about to share something with someone else? How can I set that other person up to be able to hear, well, what I’m going to say?

[00:29:08] Cheryl: Yeah, so again, that whole idea of contextualizing and I’ll, I’ll, I’ll share with you some different types of framings and I’ll pretend that I’m gonna do this with, with Stephanie. Um, Stephanie, I’m really struggling with something right now and I just need some time to process it. Then Stephanie could say, well, how much time do you need?

‘Cause we gotta have some accountability here. I don’t have two hours. I gotta go to the next thing. Well, I need about 20 minutes. Oh gosh, Cheryl, I have about 10 minutes now. Would you like to get together around two o’clock today? And I can give you half an hour on this so you’re contracting with one another so that you can be fully present to that person.

Um, another one might be. You know, Stephanie, I got a big decision to make. I have two options. I’m not sure which way to go. I’m wondering if you can help me figure out, uh, what’s the best decision to make. Stephanie might at that point again, create a boundary. Oh my goodness. I would love, I’m honored that you would ask me.

I do wanna let you know, I’m not gonna tell you which decision to make, but I would be happy to walk through that process with you and share with you what I’m hearing you say. Again, you’re contracting for the conversation and missionaries you can train your people that you’re talking to, to be able to do that with you, which is literally helping them to tap into their own self-agency and get them away from starting to feel helpless.

[00:30:31] Stephanie: Mm, that’s huge. And think how different conversations would be if we could just take a sentence or two at the top of a conversation to throw out what it is that we’re looking for, to preface what we’re saying, to add some clarity. To make the conversation more enjoyable, more productive, to make sure that’s at the right time.

I mean, that’s just meta communication. That’s a way to just talk about the way we’re communicating to set ourselves up for success. The other, the listener and the speaker, ah, I didn’t even think we’d go there today, Cheryl. I love this so much. I wanna make sure too, at the top, uh, we mentioned that we’d be talking about default listening styles. 

Could you take a second to talk about the difference between closed and open listening briefly, and then what are some of those closed listening styles that we so often default to toward?

[00:31:19] Cheryl: I describe closed listening styles in the context of biblical characters, and I’ll share those with you in a moment. But closed listening styles is basically where really the only voice that we can hear is our own. And as a result of that, anything that you say to me becomes interpreted from my perspective, my bias, and will get very quickly distorted into.

A version of the truth that suits however I’m listening to myself. Um, the best example I have of this was I had a family member who believed that I was hyper-controlling and um, was using my health concerns to manipulate the family and that it was all a charade and, um. It is a very sad story. Uh, it, it came out of a long history of literal hatred, uh, towards me with this particular part of the family.

And at one point I found myself always trying to make up for this. So whenever we talked on the phone, I was hyper-chatty and filling in all the spaces, and I was praying about this relationship and the Lord instructed me that the next time we had a conversation that I was not to work so hard at it. I was let the conversation go where it may go.

So I thought, okay. I was very scared to step out of my deformed persona, but I was willing to engage in this because the Lord had downloaded this to me. So I got on the phone with this person. Hello. Hello. How are you doing? I’m doing pretty good. How are you doing? I’m doing good. Then there’s silence. Well, I guess, uh, I guess I’ll talk to you again.

That sounds good. Hung up the phone. I’m like, what was that all about, Lord, it was literally like, like a two-minute conversation with a lot of silence. That afternoon. I got an email from this person that was a very strange conversation. Is everything okay? And I thought, oh, here’s my opportunity, Lord. I prayed and I wrote this person back.

Everything’s okay with me. I don’t think things are okay with us, and the reality is I’ve come to understand that whatever I say to you is going to be received from a lens that I am controlling and manipulative, which is preventing us from really getting to know one another. I long for more in our relationship.

I’ll wait for you, reply. This person comes back to me and says, you’ve given me a lot to think about now I want to you to know. Three years later, we have the most loving, incredible relationship. And I think this person is on the verge of professing to know Jesus Christ as their personal savior. 

[00:34:11] Stephanie: Wow. 

[00:34:12] Cheryl: that all came from the fact that I stopped closed listening.

I only heard myself, and I began to engage in more of an open listening stance. Very vulnerable, very vulnerable loss of control. When you’re in an open listening stance, but the opportunity for relationship to happen is also present.

[00:34:34] Stephanie: So bringing up control is so huge. I mean, I’m listening to you and your story, Cheryl, and I think how many times, specifically thinking of the mission field, how many times did I try to control conversations because I was afraid? I think there was fear at the root. I was afraid of where it would go. I was afraid. Um. That someone might talk too long and I didn’t know Spanish well enough and I would misunderstand what they were saying. So I just figured if it was, a lot of it was language in the beginning, but I would try and talk as fast and as much as I could to hopefully, I don’t know, somehow control the conversation.

Uh. I don’t know how I thought that would work better. I’m, I’m, I’m actually analyzing it. I’m thinking about it as I’m saying it and I’m going, I’m not really sure why I thought that would work. But also I think we’re sometimes dealing with cultural considerations too, where there might be a culture a missionary is serving in and they are trained that the leadership tells them what to do. Um, so I go to my pastor and they tell me what to do. I go to my leader, I go to my parent and they tell me what to do even though I’m an adult. And so. Oftentimes that can be uncomfortable with a leader because even if you’re not wired that way, people can be expecting that from you. And I found myself conforming to people’s expectations of me rather than learning how to push up against them and say, Hey, even more than my voice, you need to learn how to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice. Um, so I appreciate the way that you framed that up because it’s, it is counter-cultural in. Most cultures to listen deeply and to teach them to hear from the Lord rather than a leader. Uh, so that’s huge. Thank you for explaining that.

[00:36:14] Cheryl: You’re welcome and, and part of that too, this goes back to something we talked about a few minutes ago. When I allow you that first two minutes at where I’m really listening to you, a lot of times when I first talking, there’s so much Rev. I’m, I’m assuming that you’re not really gonna listen to me. I’m assuming you’re gonna interrupt me.

So I’m not even able to form thoughts in a meaningful way yet because I’m feeling this franticness about trying to evaluate whether you are even present to me.

[00:36:50] Stephanie: Oh, that’s so accurate.

[00:36:51] Cheryl: Right. And so that’s, that’s another reason why those first two minutes are so important. And I believe if those first two minutes are, um, grace-filled, that we’re not gonna have people talking for 20 minutes because they’re not getting so wound up, they’re not gonna be concerned that you’re not going to hear them.

And they’re, and they’re trying to grab for the mic. They’re, they’re, they can be calmer, they can be more rested. There’s, you’re inviting almost an dare I say, shalom or wellness into the conversation, even if it’s a difficult topic that the person’s dealing with.

[00:37:32] Stephanie: So by bringing that shalom, calm, peaceful presence, you teach people that you are someone who will hear them, which calms them down. So they’re not talking as fast and furious as possible.

[00:37:47] Cheryl: Yes.

[00:37:49] Stephanie: That’s so good.

[00:37:51] Cheryl: and we have to do the work inside of us first. I’ll share a story. So my son and daughter-in-law are living with us right now. And, um, we, we had a intense discussion and I could feel myself, you know, I’m on steroids right now and my cortisol was jumping up and I did not want to be. Um, I didn’t wanna set an edge in that conversation, so I let the family know because I didn’t want my daughter-in-law to feel like I was abandoning her.

I need to go for a walk to get some of this cortisol burn off. I will be back so I can be present to you. I had to do that Stephanie because there’s no way I could manage all of the chemicals that started to get reacted because I was triggered and they didn’t do anything wrong. I just got triggered. I could not self-manage well, my only way of self-managing was to remove myself so that I could get myself in a, in a stable state and I could come back.

Otherwise, I don’t trust anything that I would’ve said. That is also part of, of good listening. If you’re in an environment where a person is trying to talk to you and you almost feel like they’re clawing at you, you have to have the wherewithal to say, wow, there’s a lot going on for you. I was not prepared for this level of intensity or length of time for the conversation.

I want to come back to it another time, but I am not in an emotional or a physical space to be able to do that right now. Can we do that? And that is us stepping into our self agency. Which they will respect. They’ll be like, oh, of course. Of course. Because what are we? We’re honoring them. We’re honoring their need, but we’re also honoring our need as well.

It’s not either or when we’re moving into open listening, it is not an either or. It is a both, and closed listening is an either or kind of listening.

[00:39:50] Stephanie: Ooh. 

And you mentioned that there are biblical characters that you use to, uh, describe those different types of closed listings. What are those?

[00:39:59] Cheryl: Yes. It’s quite funny. So, um, and if your, your, uh, listeners are interested in this, we can give ’em a little bit more information, but I’ll give you the bottom line ’cause I’m a bottom line kind of person. These six characters that I’m going to give to you all had encounters with Christ and missed him.

Now that’s sobering. How many times have I had an encounter with God and I’ve missed him? Now, I don’t want that to put pressure on us. I don’t want it to put us in a place where we’re performing. What I’m hoping that it does is it invites us to be hungry for what Stephanie’s inviting here to, to long for this and to practice this.

So if you look at, for example, the Sadducees, right? They only believed in what they could see. You look at King Herod, what did he do? He had to run over people. Stephanie used that word control. It was all about making sure everything was under control. Then we have the Pharisees, right? They separated themselves from everything, everyone else, and their agenda overshadowed everyone.

It was appearance versus the heart. Sort of like that deforming that she was talking about before we got on this call that John Mark Comer’s talking about. And of course we have the Israelites. You know, no matter how many times they saw God do great things, they just always wondered if God was gonna do a great thing.

We call those the eos, right? So if you’re listening this in this style, what are you listening? You’re listening for the problem. You’re listening for the battle. You’re listening for the fact that it’s not gonna work, and you’re listening to make sure you can prove that it’s not gonna work. Wow, that’s exhausting listening too, is it?

And then of course you have the Sanhedrin. Sanhedrin, you know those, the leaders, the leader of the leaders, they would sit together and Sanhedrin was the highest level. And what they basically did is built these trumped up charges against Jesus. And so they went from being judicial to judgmental. And that goes back to that whole idea of objective observation, which I couldn’t get out earlier.

I’m going to observe, but I have to train to be objective in my observations. Then finally, and the one that’s probably most sad for me is Pilate, because Pilate had tremendous authority. And you know what he did? He washed his hands of his authority. He was unwilling to put any skin in the game, and as a result of that, we know what the result was.

Criminals gets set free and an innocent man dies.

[00:42:36] Stephanie: So if we were to describe the type of person who is each one of those characters working backwards, starting with Pilate, it sounds like a person who has a Pilate style of closed listening. As someone who washes their hands, who withdraws, who won’t enter into it,

[00:42:51] Cheryl: Correct.

[00:42:52] Stephanie: Can you describe each of the other people?

[00:42:56] Cheryl: A person who is a Sanhedrin, um, doesn’t take the time to confirm their own assessments, and they begin to act on whatever they’ve assessed. And so in this case, guess what happens? They’re not safe to talk to because I share one thing with you. Now, you’ve made a judgment about what I’ve said. Have you ever experienced that?

That’s Sanhedrin listening. It’s quick listening, but it’s, it’s very painful listening and sadly, there’s too much of that going on in the church. The Israelites, the pessimists. No matter what you say to me, I’m coming from a position that it’s never gonna work. It’s a dumb idea. Um, we shouldn’t even bother with this.

We have this rule of thumb in Promised Land Living. No matter what idea anybody comes up with, we have to entertain it as if it’s the most brilliant idea for one minute. And there are times where we will literally set a watch because we can’t afford to go longer than a minute, but we will give it, it’s just due for one minute.

No Israelite type thinking there. Um, the Pharisees, this is when people start to, so they’re hearing what your problem is, unlike the Sanhedrin, but they’re going to, well, you should do this. You ought to do this. This is the appropriate way to handle this. I had, um, a bible teacher’s a very sad story, but I, I think this is appropriate to share here.

I had a Bible study teacher who unfriended me on Facebook because I did not handle a situation the way she thought I should. Never asked any questions, just decided. That’s, that’s a Pharisee type thinking. Again, very closed. 

King Herod? Well, that, that was me. Stephanie called it. She called it out. You know, I’m the steamroller. I’m gonna roll right over you. I’m gonna make sure everything gets done. We’re gonna give orders. I can’t afford any conflict because we got things to do. We’re movers and shakers. So, you know, I mean, it’s pretty clear when you come to me, if you bring in a conflict, I’m going to squash that conflict because I don’t want anything to slow down what’s gotta be done.

The reality is they’re all inside of me, Stephanie. But that’s probably the biggest one. Um, and the Sadducees, well, they just know better than everyone else. So if they can’t see what you are, if they can’t see it to believe it for themselves, then anything you say is discounted. So then you’re spending your entire time trying to prove to them that what you’re saying is true.

That’s exhausting. Again, another closed listening style.

[00:45:35] Stephanie: So what can missionaries do? Hopefully everybody’s listening right now and they’re identifying which one or two of those is their predominant closed listening style. I know I did. You talked about this In Promise Land Living, I think in the first session and I was like, whoa, I feel a little bit of Pharisee and a little Pilate because I’ve noticed too different, uh, sometimes people who have more than one style, certain people will pull different ones out of you.

Certain ones, you wanna be more judgemental with certain ones you just wanna peel and run and not engage at all. But yeah, it was very sobering for me to realize, okay, how am I behaving and with whom am I behaving this way? 

So as people have been listening and hopefully noticing which one is they are most, like, what are some steps they can take to move away from that and into a more open listening style.

[00:46:23] Cheryl: Well Stephanie, everything we do at Promised Land Living revolves around something we call the Shift, which is basically a process of repentance. We confess and we repent. We start with recognizing when I’m listening in this way. So when I’m listening King Herod style, I get very, very aggravated with you and I will start to interrupt you.

And those are two really good signs. We call those symptoms that uh-oh. I suddenly believe that I’m much more important than you and that I have to have control of the situation, and it’s really ugly, and you can just ask my husband. It is ugly. So we’ve done a lot of work on that. Um, we call it large and in charge when Cheryl gets to be large and in charge.

But here’s the good news, once I recognize that I can begin to shift out of that. First I have to say to my, well, what am I telling myself? Well, what I’m telling myself is what I have to say or what is going on for me is more important than what’s going on for the other person. Well, that’s a wonderful egocentric lie.

What is the truth? So then I choose to bring in that truth. This person, God sees this person no better and no worse than me. They’re beautiful in God’s eyes and they deserve to be dignified by me. And oh, by the way, in this moment, this is my testimony in Christ at stake. How will I testify to who Jesus is in me in terms of how am I gonna interact with that person?

So in that moment now, then I can confess, Lord, please. Thank you for showing this to me. I am large and in charge is fired, and I’m gonna move into this space of mutual respect and dignity for one another because that’s the way you’ve trained us. And then I move into this space of, okay, how do I do this now?

Lord, what is, how do I I step into this space and this is where we have this open listening framework. And if you have a pen and paper, I know I’m gonna run through this fast, but there’s basically, and I, this is from my precept days, but you know, you think about a frame as providing a context. So if you draw a box and you put on the top of that box the word celebrate truth, and then on one side guard truth, and then on the other side speak truth, and then on the bottom discern truth.

So you have celebrate, guard, speak. And discern if we begin to use that as the portal through which we listen to another person, beautiful, divine, eternal, transformative things will happen.

[00:49:07] Stephanie: Thank you for sharing that, and you’ve illustrated something. So you provided not only steps that people can take today, but you’ve given an illustration right now, Cheryl, that I think people can lean into. Thank you.

[00:49:25] Cheryl: Thank you.

[00:49:26] Stephanie: And thank you for not being afraid to be vulnerable. You, you amaze me because you are so strong and so tender and it’s, it’s a really, for me, such a powerful combination.

[00:49:39] Cheryl: I think that’s the redemptive work of, of the Lord. You know, my mom was a very strong woman. Um. But she didn’t have the tenderness. She just couldn’t allow that. And a friend of mine, Sarah, who unfortunately died of, uh, ovarian cancer, very young, she gave me the gift when she was, uh, about 28 years old. She, ’cause I was so concerned about my strength, and she said, oh, Cheryl.

Yes, you have your mom’s strength, but you have the tenderness of the Lord and you need to just let that insecurity go. And I’ll never forget that. And Sarah is long gone, but that gift still continues to live in me. And why did that happen? Because she heard me.

[00:50:24] Stephanie: Hmm.

[00:50:24] Cheryl: She truly listened to me. She saw me and she could speak genuine truth into my life.

To this day, this is probably, I’m 59 years old, so what is this? That’s 30 years ago. To this day, I’m now on a podcast with you, Stephanie and Sarah’s ability to listen to me is now being brought into the airwaves in this moment from 3 years ago.

[00:50:52] Stephanie: How wild is that? So the, the things that we say, the listening that we do has an eternal impact, which I think we all know, but it’s just so good to see how that’s illustrated even in something as simple as this. 

I would love as we begin to draw to a close for you to just take a second to describe what Promised Land Living is and how our missionaries could be a part of it. Because again, I’ve done it and I, it’s, I rave about it. I mean, I just, I would love to just be like a promoter. I wish everybody would be a part of that. And I, and I really say that I know I’m an enthusiastic person by nature, but I really genuinely, I, I’ve been through counseling in certain aspects of life.

I think all missionaries should do some counseling too. But there were some things that happened for me in Promised Land Living that I had not been able to break through on two particular issues that were. Extraordinarily life-changing for me. So in that backdrop, I’d love for you to share about that for just a second with people.

[00:51:47] Cheryl: Thank you Stephanie. You know, it’s hard ’cause I’m so close to it. Uh, so I will try my best. Um, we have been told that Promised Land Living is an extremely unique. Process. It’s a discipleship intensive, if you want to call it that. You know, we know a lot of truth, but we’re a little handicapped because knowledge puffs up love edifies.

And so what we do is we create this environment where you can take the truths that you know to be evident scripture and trained to make them more self-evident in your life. It happens in real time. It is truly substantive and transformative and, um, every journey is as different as the people who are in there.

But talk about being listened to in a powerful way. Um, I’ll share just two stories. Uh, one man. Had been through many, many years of counseling, marriage counseling, individual counseling, and his wife told him that more happened in four months of Promised Land Living than 40 years of counseling for their 

[00:53:00] Stephanie: Wow. 

[00:53:01] Cheryl: I, and that’s just one story. We had a, um, a pastor go through it at one point who preached forgiveness on a podium. But recognized because of the safety and the sacredness of the environment that he had never forgiven his mom.

[00:53:19] Stephanie: Wow.

[00:53:21] Cheryl: We have had, we’ve had missionaries go through it where they felt so lost in their own identity because you start to take on the identity of the people and okay, yes, I know who I am in Christ, I get that, but here’s who am I.

In Christ. And I think that’s a big part of what we do in Promised Land Living is we, we try to help you to not get so swallowed up by circumstances or culture or whatever situation that you’re in or your, your, your environment that you grew up in. And we help you to find you in Christ and it is exhilarating.

[00:54:02] Stephanie: It is, and it’s a space where you could just go in and just be you. I know so many of us, like you said, carry titles and hats and missionaries and pastors and ministry leaders, and you just get to go in and be Stephanie. You just get to go in and be yourself. And there’s something very refreshing about that.

It was hard for me, if I can be honest, to just step and be a part of a group at the beginning, um, and not be in leadership over it and just participate and feel like. Is this gonna work? And what does work even mean? I didn’t know what to expect. So as you know, I came in a little skeptical, but also very open because of the people who’d recommended it to me. And, uh, it’s so, it’s so surpassed my expectations. And so with Promised Land Living now, I was a part of the, part of the first international group that you had for people who are global workers, missionaries living abroad. And so now as a result, we have multiple groups. Like that in Promise Land Living. And there’s groups for men and women, right?

They’re usually gender divided because of the depth Oh, 100%.

[00:54:58] Cheryl: Yeah. Unless you’re in a, a group for marriage, um, it is gender divided. And, um, if they wanted to find out more about that, if they just go to Promised Land Living, it’s. Promised Land Living with, and then click on the tab for courses. They will get more information for the men’s and women’s and eventually married.

I think by the time this gets published, we’ll have the new website up and if you don’t see a course that works for you, then just a wait list yourself. And then anytime a new course, uh, becomes available, you’ll get a notification. You have first opportunity to register.

[00:55:31] Stephanie: Great. And if they wanna be a part of a international group specifically, can they just make a little note of that?

[00:55:36] Cheryl: Yes, or if they want, I would recommend that they, um, email us at info Um, because that’s a little bit more of a specialized environment and Stephanie is gonna be part of a global, um, meeting that we’re gonna have, I think with six or seven different people as this becomes more formed.

[00:55:55] Stephanie: Yeah, I’m so excited about it. Cheryl, I can’t thank you enough for coming on today. I, I enjoy talking to you so much. And now that our promise on living group’s been done for a while. Just getting to spend time with you has filled my soul and there’s so many clips I’m already imagining of things we can pull out to share with people from today.

This was a rich conversation as I knew it would be. Thank you for all that you do for the Body of Christ through Promised Land Living, and just for the people around you, for people like me. I just wanna say thank you.

[00:56:24] Cheryl: Thank you, Stephanie. I really appreciate being on this with you today.

[00:56:28] Stephanie: Oh, and, and thanks to everybody who joined us today. We look forward to seeing you on our next episode.

Since 2008, Modern Day Missions has been providing financial, administrative, and marketing services to Christian missionaries around the globe. We’re currently partnered with more than 750 missionaries in 75 different nations. If you or someone you know are looking for a non profit covering to fulfill your mission’s vision, Modern Day could be the answer you’re looking for.