Wednesday, May 12, 2010


“To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation.”
-Chinese Proverb

"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires...don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says...If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless."
-James 1:19-27

You know, I think that we have a tough time listening these days. Too often while someone is talking we're formulating a rebuttal or something of substance to say...and even then, we have a nasty tendency to interject-interrupting the person who is talking. I know I've done it and I catch myself doing it too. The sad thing is, I know it isn't just me and that it's something we all have been struggling with and against-the ever changing culture.
We live in a do as I say, not as I do type of world. And in a previous blog article I mentioned how we're good at judging others on their behavior and ourselves by those good intentions deep within. The winds have changed! When I was growing up...children or youth didn't speak unless they were spoken to or asked their opinion...but's hard to get a teenager or pre-teen to keep their thoughts and opinions to themselves.
It's not that they don't have a 'shut-up' filter, it's just that they don't know how to use it.
In today's culture, the reason we're so geared or wired to firing back a line or two-whether it's of substance or not, isn't because we forgot how to listen, but because of what we've been taught or have learned-whether intentionally or unintentionally from family, friends, or the media (tv or movies). It's perception vs. reality really...I mean somehow it has become-if you're unable to speak your mind, you don't have a mind or anything to contribute.
Now I realize that I'm generalizing here...I mean, we all know that we're not trying to think of consoling words for our friends and family members who are spilling their guts about cheating, self-esteem issues, break-ups with so and so, or the loss of someone close. I mean come on...we listen 100% of the time! We've all heard this before: 'God gave you one mouth and two ears'...and I wonder which we should use less of.
There are two types of listening really: Active and Passive Listening. Passive Listening is listening without reacting:  Allowing someone to speak, without interrupting and not doing anything else at the same time. Active listening is reacting or doing something that demonstrates you are listening and have understood.

Giving non-verbal cues to demonstrate you are paying attention (nodding, making eye contact, making facial expressions appropriate to what is being said) or eflecting back the main points and summarising what has been said. Now, here's the kicker: Non-verbal cues happen naturally, providing you really are listening. If you concentrate on making the non-verbal cues, then you probably aren't listening.
The fundamental question we have to ask here is this: are we really listening?
Of course we have to take it a step further...not just when it comes to our friends and family members, but to God's will for our lives. I believe God speaks to us through those around us-including our friends and family members. Part of discerning God's will is listening to what others have to say concerning their observations of God's work in your life...can you see His hand in your life? Or have you done it all on your own? Remember, 'if you claim to be righteous and don't tame your own tongue you're only fooling yourself and your religion is worthless.'
The challenge is to re-read the above quote and marinade on the scripture passage. Start to think and reflect on how well you listen to others and to God. How is your marriage? How is your relationship with God? If it's suffering and there's too much 'reaction' taking's time to take a step back and hold that tongue.
How can you better your current situation? Are you praying?
I pray that you might stop fooling I know I have fooled myself too many times. Pray for me as well.

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