This past Sunday, a woman in our congregation gave a testimony I was not prepared for. This sweet older woman went through unthinkable horrors in her past. But the story of how God saved her from her circumstances, was encouraging to hear. We often assume what someone's like, without first taking time to listen to their story. But a concept my colleague, Dan Cearns, has pointed out in his column in the past, is that everyone has a story to tell. The question is, are we listening?
I can be quite a talker sometimes. My introverted friends appreciate my ability to keep conversations going. But sometimes I'm too quick to speak, and I should spend more time listening. In the book of James, in the Bible, it says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19 NIV). Our society is often characterized by people who are easily angered, who spend little time listening, and a lot of time talking. And I'm addressing myself too, I'm as guilty as the next person in this area.
In another place in the Bible, it says, we should not be “looking to [our] own interests but each of [us] to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:4 NIV). Rather than always sharing what's on my mind, I should be listening to what's on the minds of other people in my life. There is a lot I can learn from them too!
Today, more than ever, we should value hearing each other's thoughts. Since we did away with the penny, the expression “Penny for your thoughts” had to go the way of inflation, and become “Nickel for your thoughts.” With the price of thoughts going up, we should be eager to listen to the thoughts people freely share with us.
Joking aside, if someone is willing to share their thoughts with us, we should be honoured. This shows they value and trust us enough to share with us. Instead of always giving our counter opinion, or hastily adding our thoughts to show we agree, let's try and listen to each other, patiently.
As the old saying goes, “God gave us one mouth, but two ears. So we should do twice as much listening as speaking.”
One last counter balance: what you have to say has value too. I'm not saying we should all be silent and wait for the other person to do all the talking. But let's try and make room for everyone to have a fair chance to share, and encourage them to do so, both through our words, and our lack of words. Happy listening! God bless.