On Monday of this week I wrote a blog called “Push the Pause Button.” It is an encouragement to learn to “listen.” You discovered in James 1:19&20 that James the brother of Jesus challenges “everyone” to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.” As believers in Jesus, listening before speaking is becoming a servant placing another’s needs before you own. As you begin to practice “active” listening, you discover that you have to choose to “push the pause button.” You want to speak quickly yet James tells us to be quiet and listen. Developing this habit is a huge step in your relationships and ministry to others especially your spouse and kids. And, by the way, it is tough to do! Why? Because listening makes you vulnerable and requires patience and kindness. The purpose of true, sincere, compassionate listening is a genuine attempt to hear another’s viewpoint, feelings and hurts. And, active listening is giving an ear even if you don’t agree. Let me assure you, that’s tough! You have to be courageous when you feel misunderstood by the speaker (sender). However, another does not want to hear from you until they have been heard. And, don’t forget, it may not be the right time for you to rebut their comments. The sole purpose is to hear them out. Be “quick to listen.” When you choose to not speak your views, it will impact the sender. This impact may be small because they may feel that this is an attempt to manipulate them. However, you make it a habit and you will most likely fundamentally see a positive change in the relationship. Be patient and kind…the 1st two characteristics of Jesus’ listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
When it is time for you speak, don’t forget James says, “be slow to speak.” It does not mean to come flying out the gate with strong even harsh words. Your words should be a “slow clap” not a “loud clap.” Think about the energy differential and the resulting reaction between a “slow clap” and a “loud clap.”
One of the best verses regarding the manner that Christ-followers should speak to others is located in Ephesians 4:29 written by Paul the Apostle. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Let’s do a quick analysis of this verse.
- The words that come out of your mouth cannot be unwholesome. Wholesome means as it sounds. It challenges or encourages another person to be or to become whole. The ESV uses the descriptive word, “corrosive.” Do not let any corrosive words proceed from your mouth.
- Then, this verse tells you do something that you can only do if you have carefully listened and paid attention to another person. Paul builds upon the word, “wholesome”, by telling us our words must be “helpful for building others up according to their needs.”
- Furthermore, Paul tells us what the purpose of our speech must be… “that it may benefit those who listen.” It is for the benefit of the receiver.
This is so different than our current worldly power talk. Often, we feel that we know what’s best for another whether they agree or not, and, “by George, I am going to give them the ‘what’s for’!” How’s that working for you?! You genuinely may know what the other one needs. But, until they know that your words are spoken from a compassionate, edifying heart, the words will not get through the listener’s wall of feelings and will most times end up in anger or “whatever” spoken or absorbed. You may find that kids or a spouse or others mechanically hear to get you off their backs only to discover later that it had little to no impact on their behavior.
Never forget the old saying, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care!” Slow claps not fast claps.