Listen More, Talk Less
Sometimes we talk when we should listen. We do this to our spouses, our kids, our friends, our peers, collegues, and even with God.
One morning when my husband and I first got married. I woke up to find him standing in the window, his head propped up in his hand, gazing out of the window. He had some heavy stuff on his mind the night before, and I assumed that those heavy issues were still weighing his thoughts down. He turned to acknowledge and say something to me, and before he could open his mouth, I launched into admonishing him for not giving those troubles to God last night…yada, yada, yada…took a small breath, my husband tried to speak, but I kept talking. After a couple of more attempts to interject into the conversation, he stopped trying, propped his hip on the window sill and just listened. After he was sure that I was finished, he tried to speak again, but I jumped out of the bed, realizing that the 20 minute diatribe set me back on my schedule and I was going to be late for an appointment. Then I started complaining about the fact that he’d made me late. I tore in and out of the shower, pulled on my clothes (my husband is still standing by the window looking out), and grabbed my laptop. I gave him a hug and a kiss, and he was still trying to talk to me, but I didn’t want him to say anything…”just remember what I said. Love you and see you later.” I get into my vehicle, open the garage, and I’m greeted with at least two-to-three inches of snow and ice. In Georgia, we are not accustomed to bad weather, such as snow and ice, so when it does drop, the city practically shuts down.
I’m sitting in my vehicle stunned and mesmerized by the blanket of bright, white snow and ice coating the driveway, the trees, and the streets. I’m not sure how long I sat there when my husband opens my door, helps me out of the vehicle, and hugs me to him. He simply says, “I was watching a rabbit run around in the backyard in the snow. The scene was so tranquil that it warmed me from the inside. I tried to tell you it was snowing outside and that you should cancel your meeting.” He then dropped a loving kiss on my lips, extracted my laptop from the back seat, and took me back into the house.
James 1:19 tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. I consciously challenge myself each day to listen more than I speak. I put a mental stopwatch on my conversations to keep track of how long I speak during a conversation. I don’t want to communicate to people that I think my ideas and thoughts are more important than their ideas and thoughts. And, I find that the more I listen to others, the more I learn about them and things. If we are always talking, rarely listening, and neglect to allow others to speak or interject into the conversation, people won’t want to talk to us that much. They will dread talking to us because we talk too much, think we know everything, and don’t value a real two-way conversation.
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon warns us not to be quick with our mouths to utter anything hasty before God (Ecclesiastes 5:1)…God is in heaven and you are on Earth so let your words be few. Now I know that anything God has to say to me is much more important than anything that I say to Him. I have to warn myself against having one-way conversations with God where I’m doing all of the talking or complaining and God is just listening. Too much of that is extremely counterproductive. I can’t talk and listen at the same time. I’ve learned to just sit and listen for God’s prompting, signs, and His voice. Sometimes, before I even start talking to God, He speaks first giving me answers before I even expel my request.
I challenge you today to monitor the amount of talking you do in a conversation against the amount of listening you do in that same conversation. You might be surprised at how much more you talk than listen. It’s a process, and doesn’t necessarily change overnight. Give it some time and conscious effort.