Don't tell anyone I told you this, but pastors have a superpower. When we are ordained there is a whole "pastor's code" we have to sign that demands we not tell anyone about this superpower so few pastors will talk about what I am about to tell you as their superpower. But do not be fooled. Pastors have one superpower and it is our bread and butter.
Were you expecting something cooler? Water to wine? Walking on water? Ability to find quarters behind people's ears? Sorry, nothing like that. But that does not mean that listening is not one of the most super of superpowers.
Everyone needs someone to listen to them. Everyone. Even the hermits of our day talk to themselves or to God or to a volleyball (as science shows).
Which is why when you come into contact with someone who will listen, you are drawn to them. You find something about them that is "warm" or "helpful" or "holy". The power of listening is a very powerful power. Do not underestimate it.
Recently I heard this TED Talk by Julian Treasure about listening. At the end he gives an acronym to remind people how to listen. I tweaked his acronym a bit because I think that listening is like exploring, which is why when I listen to others I work like NASA.
Nod, Affirm, Summarize and Ask.
Nodding your head goes a long way. Not like a bobble head. Just nod.
Affirm. Just say 'yes'.
Summarize what you have just heard - "so what I hear you saying is..."
Ask - Ask a question. Even if it is just in the ballpark of the conversation is good enough.