The Wisdom of Listening

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19

Being quick to listen and slow to speak…now that’s a hard one for me.

People want to be heard. People need to be heard. Yet, very few people truly take time to listen to others.

Usually when people are talking, I am thinking about what I want to say in reply. I jump in and interrupt, or I try to fill in the blank of what I think that they are trying to say.

Priscilla Shirer writes in The Resolution for Women,

Most of the time we’re so focused on ourselves and preoccupied with our own feelings, every conversation becomes ultimately about us and how we’re being affected.  We’re parsing what the other person is saying, interpreting as we go, trying to fix whatever problem she’s presenting, jumping in at every possible opening with our own attempts to turn the attention back to us, our experiences, and our opinions. (p. 114)

The lack of listening can foster a spirit of pride.

Can you think of someone in your life who truly listens to what you have to say?

I can. My dad.

He has always taken time to listen to me. I have just about talked his ear off. I have talked to him about everything you can imagine.  My dad is definitely at the top of my list of people to call when something happens or when I need a listening ear. Even when I’ve been in trouble, he has always taken the time to hear my side of the story. I might have still gotten a punishment, but he took time to listen to me. That has meant the world to me.  It’s probably one of the key reasons why we have had such a close relationship through the years.

Listening promotes close relationships. 

I don’t always have the words to say when people share something with me. More often than not, it’s later on, when I am praying for them, that the Lord gives me words to encourage them. Then I can write them a card or send them a text.

Other times, I just have no words at all to share, and I’m learning that that’s okay too. Sometimes it’s important to just to be there for people and lend a listening ear.

We don’t have to have all the answers if we know the One Who does.

There have been so many occasions where I have jumped to conclusions about something Skip has said, and I interrupt him and try to finish his sentence…only to find out that I was totally off base.

Proverbs 18: 13 says, “To answer before listening– that is folly and shame.”

As a teacher, there have been moments when I have had to deal with student conflict. One student will share his side of the story, and before I listen to the other side, I will jump the gun and penalize the other student. Then when I finally hear the other side, I realize that I was wrong and should have listened before making that judgment call.

Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

Rick Warren says that he has learned that he never puts his foot in his mouth when he keeps it shut.

At the heart of all of us, we want to be valued and loved. One wonderful way we can show love to others is by listening to them.

Sometimes wisdom is not in what we say, but in what we don’t say.

There’s wisdom in listening.

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