Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.
Friend to Friend
President Franklin D. Roosevelt got tired of smiling that big smile of his and saying all the usual things at the White House receptions he was required to attend. One evening he decided to find out if anybody was really listening to what he was saying.
As each person came through the reception line to shake his hand, President Roosevelt flashed his big smile and said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” People automatically responded with comments such as “How lovely” or “Keep up the great work, Mr. President.”
Nobody really listened to what he was saying except for one foreign diplomat. When the president said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning,” the diplomat responded softly, “I’m sure she had it coming, sir.”
God created us with two ears and one mouth for a very good reason. We need to listen twice as much as we speak. Listening should always take precedence over speaking.
Proverbs 18:13 (NIV) “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.”
Listening is the first step we must take to act out Scriptural truth. Jesus modeled this principle in a powerful way. If anyone had all the answers – if anyone had the right to do all the talking on any topic, it was Jesus. But if you read the gospels, you will find His conversations were always saturated with questions.
Remember when Jesus was just a boy and was accidentally left behind by his parents when they went to Jerusalem for Passover? Where did they find Jesus? In the temple, listening to the teachers and asking them questions.
Luke 2:46 “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.”
Jesus certainly knew how to ask questions. The gospel of Mark records 67 conversations Jesus had in which he asked 50 questions. Jesus asked questions and then he carefully listened to the answers people gave. He talked with fishermen about fishing. He talked with tax collectors about financial matters. Why? Jesus understood the powerful truth that people listen to people who listen.
Jesus had a way of listening that reached down into the very souls of people. He knew how to prime the pumps of their hearts. He knew that what was inside would come pouring out. That same principle is still true.
Sometimes the best encouragement we can offer someone in pain is a listening heart Listening doesn’t require that we fix anything or even that we arrive at a solution. Listening simply sends the message, “I’m here for you. I want to understand your pain.
I’m willing to share your pain.”
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about – unless you are willing to listen. When we listen to people, we validate them. We invite them into our lives and give them the most precious gift we posses – time. Loving your neighbor is not something you feel. It is something you do. It’s the act of sacrificing your own needs and desires for the sake of someone else.
It is time for us to put away our sermons, save our advice, and simply listen to the people God has placed in our lives. Talking is sharing, but listening is caring. It’s time for us to listen up.
Father, I am in awe of Your love, and thank You for the fact that You always stand ready to listen when I call Your name. Help me see and reach out to those who are in pain. Break my heart for the broken people You send my way. Help me learn to listen to others the same way you listen to me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
The key verse today is James 1:19 that says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.” I tend to live this verse backwards because I am quick to speak and slow to listen. How about you? Think of one person who needs you to be a better listener in their life. Are you willing to make a commitment to bless that person by listening to them?
More from the Girlfriends
I am so excited to announce the launch of Friends for the Journey, a dream I have had for some time that is now a reality and part of my ministry. If you are a pastor’s wife, a women’s ministry director, a woman in need of encouragement, or someone who battles depression, I am now available to encourage and coach you via Skype sessions. You can find all of the information on my website or you can email me for details.