Most have heard this many times, I’m sure, but it’s been on my mind so I’m sharing it. “God gave you two ears and one mouth so that you’d listen twice as much as you talk”. I’m as guilty as most and more than some of this. I think most people have a tendency to half listen and then respond quickly. It’s as if our desire to be heard trumps the need of the other to have us listen. Really listen. Any of you who know me, know I’m a talker, so this will be a hard, slow concept for me to get a handle on.
How can you hear and understand what another is saying, if your focus is on what you will say next? When engaged in conversation, where another is expressing a concern or unloading a burden, I’ve caught myself, as well as witnessed numerous times others interjecting their opinion or taking over the conversation with a story or grievance of our own. Consequently, overshadowing the need of the other and stifling, perhaps what God could have accomplished through you. Empathizing with someone through sharing a similar experience can, most assuredly, be a helpful exchange. However, how often do we allow ourselves and our story to override the need and assume control of the conversation?
As broken people, we tend to lean toward self absorption and self-centeredness. This is unfortunate, because through our exchanges, we have a priceless opportunity to be shown the heart and minds of others. When others are sharing parts of their story, we tend to think about our own instead. Because of this, we tune them out and consequently miss an opportunity to know those around us, to learn something and possibly help someone.
Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive. Proverbs 17:28 (NKJV)
Here in Proverbs, the bible is showing us an example of just that. Close your lips and listen. You just might learn something.
The bible tells us, A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart. Proverbs 18:2 (NKJV)
I’m not saying that expressing your thoughts and feelings is wrong, just that perhaps we should be more intentional about it. After all, how often do you learn something new from yourself? You already knew it, didn’t you? Pause for a moment and hear what the others have to say.
Of course there will be times when you are the one who needs someone to listen to you. Wouldn’t it be nice to be known as one who is a great listener, quick to lend an ear and understand the needs of others? When you set yourself as that example, become that trusted confidant, doesn’t it stand to reason that those you’ve listened to would be more likely to do the same?
Engage with others as often as is possible, but be intentional about it. Put self aside and really listen to them. Focus on what is being shared. Choose your responses carefully, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. If the conversation is about them, let it be about them. God Bless you and your daily interactions with others. May God bring those who need your ears and heart, that you may be an answer to their prayers. Amen
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; James 1:19 (NKJV)
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,