In her book, Time to Think, 1999, Nancy Kline lists ten components of a thinking environment,

  1. Attention – Listening with respect, interest and fascination.
  2. Incisive Questions – Removing assumptions that limit ideas.
  3. Equality – Treating each other as thinking peers,
  4. Appreciation – Practising a five-to-one ratio of appreciation to criticism.
  5. Ease – Offering freedom from rush and urgency.
  6. Encouragement – Moving beyond competition.
  7. Feelings – Allowing sufficient emotional release to restore thinking.
  8. Information – Providing a full and accurate picture of reality.
  9. Place – Creating a physical environment that says back to people, ‘You matter.’
  10. Diversity – Adding quality because of the differences between us.

Almost forty years before, in 1961, Taylor Caldwell wrote her novel, The Man Who Listens, where eighty year old John Godfrey fulfilled his dream of constructing a place, a physical environment, which said to people who entered, ‘You matter.’ With construction finished the story unfolds with accounts of the people who visited the sanctuary. Caldwell paints the aspects of the thinking environment for each one and deep personal change ensues. John Godfrey’s legacy proved to be more than just a building.


I loaned my copy of Taylor Caldwell’s book to a friend some months ago. The book has since been returned. However, recently I received an Encouragement Card from my friend,

A huge thank you for loaning me your fabulous book about the Man Who Listens. I continue to pray that I will be a good LISTENER and I am humbled by the opportunities I have had to listen to those who need an ear. I have not forgotten the sensitivity and love that is conveyed through the pages of your book and it has resonated into my life. Thank you for your friendship and trust.”

The importance of listening cannot be understated. While we all have a part to play in listening to one another we are privileged to be able to turn to God. The Psalms abound with confirmation and affirmation that the Lord hears our heartfelt conversations with Him.

Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer…..the Lord hears when I call to him.

Psalm 4:1,3

What a privilege it is to go to God. We have ready access to His sanctuary whenever and wherever we are, and He listens.

P.S. My copy of The Man Who Listens was lovingly presented, by one of my brothers and his wife, to our mother on the occasion of her birthday, 2nd October 1961. It captured my attention when I first read it and somehow it ended up on my bookshelf.

P.P.S. Encouragement Cards have been part of the life of our church for many years. There is space for a short note of encouragement on one side and the name and  address of the recipient on the other. The cards are collected during worship services at the same time as the offering then posted during the week. Each card has the words , Let us encourage one another, from Hebrews 10:25.