“But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” James 1:19
There I was, doing it again – interrupting to make my comment before the other person was really finished speaking. When I realized it, I was so embarrassed! I wished I could take back those words and just be a better listener. Not that there was anything wrong with my comments – they were fine. It’s just that by not letting the other person finish before I spoke, I was in essence communicating that what I had to say about the topic was more important than what they had to say.
As I reflected on why I so often jump in and interrupt before others are finished, I concluded that I am all too eager to offer my two cents worth because I want the other person to think I’m intelligent, witty, amusing, or even interested in them, and in my effort to avoid awkward silences I sometimes go to the opposite extreme and speak when I really should be silent.
One day, after I had already been pondering these things, I was listening to the radio and heard someone commenting about how nice it is to meet people who are good at listening and who wait to speak until they have really listened and have something truly insightful to say – not just mere words to fill up the silence. This reminded me of Proverbs 25:11, which says, “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” It’s better to say nothing at all than to speak at the wrong time or with careless words! Sometimes silence is refreshing and speaks louder than many words ever could.
So the next time I am tempted to jump in and make a comment on something that the other person is saying, I need to stop and make sure that I have truly listened and that what I am about to say is really going to improve the silence! Does the other person need my witty remarks or my listening ear more? Have I taken time to think through what, if any, response would be most helpful? Am I communicating that I care about what the other person has to say, or that I am eager to make myself heard?
Lord, please help me to practice being quick to listen and slow to speak today, and that I would truly listen with a genuine interest to what others are saying, without always feeling like I have to have some comment to make about it! May the words that come out of my mouth always be edifying to the hearer and glorifying to You, and may I be careful to avoid idle speech that is of no profit! I want my words, as well as my silence, to bring healing, encouragement, and grace, so that I might better be able to share the love of Christ with those around me!