“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, but it is also with it takes to sit down and listen.”
— Winston Churchill
Have you ever been engaged in a conversation with someone that will not listen? Have you ever been engaged in a conversation with someone that will not speak up? Each of these extremes can be frustrating and both serve as a basis for problems in human relations. All too often we have relationship problems because the strong personality will not listen to any other opinion except theirs, on the other hand the introverted personality will never speak up and share their opinion.
Today, marriages, business partnerships, Churches and secular organizations often fail for one reason. A lack of courage when it comes to speaking and listening. For instance, have you ever been in a meeting where no one offers any solutions and silence is golden, only to have everyone murmur and complain privately about the decisions being made? One the flip side, everyone has worked for a boss that refused to listen to any opinion and completely shut down the communication and talents of the organization. It can be hard to know when to speak and when to listen, but God has given us a huge clue in trying to figure this one out. If you and I stand in a mirror and look at our own reflections, we will see that God blessed us with two EARS, and one MOUTH, so that has to be a good ratio to begin with! Listen twice as much as you speak is what GOD intended… So how do we find the courage to know when to speak and when to be quiet?
First lets define courage… Courage is positive righteous action in spite of fear. Fear is the reason many of us have a hard time listening more than we speak. Our own personal ego(Edging God Out) can’t stand not being right all the time. We feel that the World has to have my opinion or it will collapse. The problem is everyone thinks that they are always right, so they tell everyone else why they are right. It takes courage to be quiet and learn from others. Here is a list to help measure your listening skills.
- Do you ever interrupt others when they are speaking to share your opinion?
- When meeting new folks do you forget their names, occupation etc.. immediately?
- When engaged in a conversation are you thinking about what you are going to say next?
- Do you often give your opinion before being asked for it?
- Have you ever “woke up” in the middle of a conversation and realized that you missed the last five minutes?
- When you walk away from a conversation does the person know twice as much about you than you know about them?
If we are honest, we all can answer yes to these questions and we could stand to listen to others more. How much better would our relationships be if we learned to listen more? Parents listen to your children twice as much as you reprimand them? Children listen to your parents twice as much as you disregard them as old fashioned. Husbands listen to your wives twice as much as you ignore them. Wives listen to husbands twice as much as you nag them. Church members listen to your Pastor twice as much as you second guess him/her. Leaders listen to your followers twice as much as you direct them. In general, listen twice as much as you speak, and take notice of how much richer your relationships become. And if you have trouble, heed these wise words of advice… “Let the first words you speak be your second or third thought”.
So then my beloved brothers, be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.