Listen First

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  James 1:19

I frequently do the opposite of this verse.  I am often quick to speak and slow to listen.  I was reminded this week of one of my inherit flaws to talk first, even to the point of interrupting others.

I know I do it.  I don’t like that I do it.  I try to not do it.  However, often my mouth gets ahead of my brain and I talk more than I listen.  If your mouth has ever leaped in front of your brain like mine, read on, my friend.

I’ve tried to analyze why I talk before listening and have identified a few reasons.

I am eager to get my point across or to add to the conversation.  Other times, I just want to move the conversation along.  Mainly I think it’s because I am impatient as I shared last Sunday.

I have learned patience with my clients when they have difficulty remembering.  I just need to apply that to the rest of my life.  For the help I need and desire, I went to the Bible.

Proverbs is a treasure trove of wisdom on how to live and Solomon’s wise words don’t disappoint of this issue either.  In Proverbs 12:15 he says:

Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.

The wise listen to others.  They don’t talk first and they don’t interrupt because they are so eager to share their thoughts.  They are patient.  The wise listen.  But life is constantly clamoring for our attention with many voices.

God tells us which voice to listen to in Mark 9:7:

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him. 

During the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, God Himself said this to the disciples.  Listen to Him-meaning Jesus.  Jesus is to whom I listen.

Jesus said himself in John 10:27:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. listen

To follow Jesus and to be wise as Solomon describes, I need to listen to Jesus’ voice alone and follow Him.

How will this help me when I just want to talk and am eager or impatient in everyday life?

Hold my tongue. Listen to Jesus and like Jesus. 

Show love and care for others by paying attention and listening, not interrupting.  Put other’s thoughts and desires before mine, be present and be patient.

The other day after realizing how obnoxious I am when I always interrupt, I tried to hold my tongue and not speak.  It was incredibly difficult but I did it even though it was ever so briefly.

I have learned much in the moments when I listen closely and not speak. Next step is to do it more consistently.  Be present, patient, listen and then speak if I can add to the conversation thoughtfully.

And I do all this by listening first to Jesus. A timely reminder of how following his example and footprints in this life is always the best choice.

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