Quick to Listen Slowly
Wednesday - September 29th
Scripture to Read Today: James 1:19-27
Let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance.
In his book, Avoiding Stress Fractures, Pastor Chuck Swindoll relays a story of how he learned an important lesson in being quick to listen slowly. Here is the story in Swindoll's words:
I vividly remember some time back being caught in the undertow of too many commitments in too few days. It wasn't long before I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day. Before long, things around our home started reflecting the pattern of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.
I distinctly recall after supper one evening the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me about something important that had happened to her at school that day. She hurriedly began, "Daddy-I- wanna-tell-you- somethin'- and-I'll-tell-you-really-fast."
Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, "Honey, you can tell me ... and you don't have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly."
I'll never forget her answer. She said, "Then listen slowly, Daddy."
While James 1:19 clearly tells us to be quick to listen, Swindoll's daughter, Colleen, captures the whole heart of what James says. She asked her father to be quick to listen but to invest time in hearing her - to listen slowly. Healthy listeners listen slowly, quickly. They lean into listening to others. They are eager to hear others out. They invest their time and attention in the one speaking. Healthy listeners tune into what they hear without short-circuiting their listening by mentally focusing on their response.
Think about how you converse with others. Do you dominate the conversation? Do you hear others out entirely before you reply?
Most of us move so quickly in life that we cannot slow down - even to listen. Yet, God commands us to slow down and hear those around us. So, cultivating the art of listening to others is an act of obedience to God and a way for us to show love and value to others.
Avoid interrupting others as you talk with them over the next few days. Hear them out completely. Ask them clarifying questions about what they have said before giving your reply. Go out of your way to be quick to listen slowly!
The spiritual practice of listening means we lean in eagerly and entirely to hearing what others have to say.