Words from the Heart for Monday June 27th, 2016
He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame.
Proverbs 18:13 (NIV)
Some people answer a question with the response they want to give, regardless of the question. Other people think while the other person is talking. How well do you listen? Are you answering before the other person is done talking?
In 2015, the Vanier Institute traveled across Canada to listen to Canadians about the role and importance of family in the lives of everyday Canadians. Voices from all generations were heard: children and youth, adults, seniors and elders in multigenerational settings and age-specific groupings. They listened to people who were experiencing their first six weeks of living in Canada and we listened to Indigenous families who have been here since time immemorial. They listened to diverse realities not shared by most Canadians, including families affected by incarceration, life on the streets, growing up in group homes and aging out of foster care. They listened to the unemployed and retired, from family enterprises and families on the farm. They listened to students of all ages from across the country as well as educators from a variety of disciplines.
I am a talker by nature. I think things through by hearing my ideas and arguments out loud. It isn’t natural for me to be contemplative. When I was a boy, teachers would often counsel me to put my brain in gear before I put my mouth in action. But over the past few months I’ve been learning about listening prayer. Prayer is a conversation, not a monologue and God wants to speak into our lives. He knows what’s best for us. His plan for our lives is far better than any plan we might have for ourselves. When we are facing challenges, God knows best how to solve them. King Solomon wrote this in Proverbs 18:13: “He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame.” This is the foundational verse for what is known as active listening. Usually when we are involved in a discussion and the other person is making a point, we aren’t really paying attention to what the other person is saying, but to how we are going to respond. Solomon counsels instead that we carefully listen to what the other person is saying before we begin to respond. This is wise counsel either in conversations with other people or with God. How often have we been embarrassed because we gave an answer before we fully understood the question? How often have we missed God’s best for us because we failed to listen? It’s not too late. Start to actively listen today – to other people and to God.
These have been words from the heart.