This verse from Proverbs 15 really struck a chord with me today. Isn’t it interesting how we are often so focused on getting our point across – of convincing the other person to see things our way – that we don’t usually stop to listen to what he or she has to say?
In my travels, I have found that listening is actually much more art than science, and it has become an increasingly rare commodity in this day and age. Everywhere we turn – TV, radio, the internet (thankfully, I don’t tune into TV or the radio, and when I’m online I’m mostly blogging, reading other people’s blogs, or focusing on my foreign language studies) – it seems as if we are being told what to think and feel. Shouted at, even!
To further compound the problem, the ones telling us what to think and feel aren’t usually listening to the feedbak that we offer by way of reply. Usually, such feedback is either ignored wholesale or discounted, because it does not align with the consensus view.
Or, sadly, we are the ones trying to get our point across, and are so intent on doing so, we may (often unintentionally) steamroll over the other person. Ever do that? I know I’ve lapsed here from time to time, and I’m not proud of it. Awareness is the first step in the right direction, though, so be encouraged!
At any rate, such a me-focused approach is not biblical, and I think it’s an area where we all can stand to improve. This is not to say that God is down on us or anything, but think about it – He listens to us patiently when we pray, but we usually can’t be bothered to stay still for more than five minutes to hear what He has to say by way of reply. More often than we’d like to think – or then again, maybe it’s just me? – we carelessly turn a deaf ear to the only One who is able to alter our circumstances, after we only moments earlier poured our hearts out to Him.
It sure seems like we all could benefit by becoming more intentional with our listening, don’t you think? In fact, the Bible encourages us to do the same. That’s why I like this particular rendering of this passage from Proverbs 15, as it begins with “listen” and ends with “well”. If nothing else, you can take out all of the words in the middle and still walk away from the verse with the key message: “Listen well” (I shared a post under that title not long ago. I think the point about good and effective listening bears repeating from time to time).
At any rate, this is an area where I feel that I can continue to grow. I share this not from a place of fearfulness or low self-esteem – quite the opposite, really. We are always growing and learning in the Christian life, right? So this is simply another area where I can continue to improve and develop oover time – with the Lord’s help, that is.
Will you pray with me?
Dear Lord, I need your help so that I can listen attentively to wise counselors, and then follow Your leading and take whatever next step is appropriate. In my conversations each day, help me to listen attentively and intentionally, with greater focus on what the other person is trying to say, rather than on what I am planning to say by way of reply (even if my intentions are good!). I want to live well according to Your standards, so help me to continue to grow and improve in this area over time – after all, I reckon that You gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason! 🙂 In Your name I pray, amen.