During a recent day of solitude and silence (what my mentor, Wayne Anderson, called an “EPC” for a time of Extended Personal Communion with God in solitude, silence and prayer, I had some thoughts about listening.
I had been reading in James 1, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…(vs. 19).”
I was challenged by the practical counsel to be quick to listen, but unhurried to speak. It really is the opposite of many of my instincts. I find in group settings that people are often talking over each other, seeking to be heard. What about the wisdom of listening? How can we know what is worth saying if we haven’t listened well to others—really heard their hearts?
In the context of James 1, the listening is about:
- “Humbly accepting the word planted in you, which can save you.” (21)
- Listening with the intent to follow (22).
- Listening intently to the perfect law that gives freedom and continuing in it” (25).
I can cultivate a posture of listening with God in both solitude and in my work place. I can learn to listen better to my family, friends and co-workers rather than always saying what’s on my mind. I can listen to those who cross my path over the course of the day.
I’ve come to realize that listening takes time, but it’s time well invested. When I listen well, I am enabled to then speak more to the heart of matters and act more in keeping with the heart of God. I can actually learn to have a listening heart in the midst of conversations where I am speaking. I can practice the reality of God’s presence right in the middle of things. When I listen, I hear the Father’s heart and will, and can then speak in keeping with it.
Reflection: When have you seen the fruitfulness of listening well in your relationships or your work? When have you paid the price of rushing past listening to speaking?
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