Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – James 1:19
If I ask my son how his new job is going, I’ll receive a short, two word response: “It’s good.” If I ask more questions, I might unearth one of two more details before he gets annoyed and loses interest in our conversation. I have to be thoughtful and choose my words carefully. As we sit in silence, I remember when he was four years old and never stopped talking. What happened?
If I ask my daughter how her day at school was, I’ll learn which teachers she likes best, who she ate lunch with, what she has to do for homework, and her fears about the upcoming school dance. She’s fifteen years old and talks non-stop.
Why are my daughter’s descriptions so detailed, while her brother’s words are so few?
Since you can Google just about anything, I looked it up and found that, on average, women speak 20,000 words per day, while men utter only about 7,000.
That explains why my husband asks me to “get to the point” while I’m processing something out loud. It’s why my girlfriends call just to chat, but getting details out of my son is like pulling teeth.
When God tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19) He’s telling some of us, like my husband, to be a little more patient as listeners. He’s telling others of us… like me, I’ll confess… to restrain our tongues and do a little less talking.
Where would you rank yourself as a listener on the scale below?
1 5 10
I’ve got something to say. I’ll share the talking time. I love to listen!
If you’re not sure, try these questions:
As you’re listening, do you lean in and patiently wait for your turn to speak, or are you fidgeting, just waiting for the opportunity to add your two cents?
Do you make eye contact, ignore your phone, and face the person you’re with? Do you ever lose track of time because you care deeply for the person talking?
As they’re talking, are you thinking of your to-do list, hoping the conversation ends soon so you can get started on it?
Tough questions, but so important to think about, because listening grows loving relationships. Building and maintaining loving relationships is incredibly important to God.
Jesus taught us God’s greatest command - Love the Lord your God with all our heart, mind and soul and love others (Mark 12:30-31). Think about the countless times Jesus stopped what He was doing to listen to someone’s desires or physical needs. He listened as a father grieved his dying daughter, as a woman at a well explained her marriage status, and as a paralyzed man shared how long he’d been hoping for a miracle. Each one of them could tell that Jesus loved them and cared about their situation, because He listened.
Jesus was an amazing and loving listener. He wants us to follow His lead.
Let’s actively show our love this week by listening on purpose, one person, one idea, one response at a time, even if she has a lot to say or his words are few and far between.
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