Scripture for Reflection – James 1:19-20

You must understand this, my beloved: let
everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does
not produce God’s righteousness.

Reflection – Closer Relationships – Part I of III – Listening

The voice recognition on my phone will fail me at times. The
other day I was writing a text about ‘Hank’s dad’, and it came out ‘Hank is
dead’. Had I not checked the text carefully before sending it, there would have
been much alarm at the other end. My phone could listen better.

I shared a quote from Steven Covey in my sermon on Sunday. He
said, ‘Most people don’t listen with then intent to understand, they listen with
the intent to reply’.

When I talk, I am often guilty of listening with the intent
to reply. When I do so, I am only hearing half of what is said, getting ‘the
gist’, but not really listening for what someone is saying. I often feel because
I am a leader, I should have all the answers. I know this is not true. Good
leaders are good listeners. That is a much better place to start.

To have closer relationships, we must not only hear the
words, we must also seek to understand what they mean. And if we do not
understand, we ask questions (intent to understand), instead of giving opinions
(intent to reply). This demands we set ourselves aside and do our best to step
into the other person’s world, if only for a little while. This is what good
parents do. This is what good teachers do. This is what good coaches, business
associates, civic leaders, church members, friends and siblings do.

Understanding leads to the meaning that makes life worth
living. Conversation with understanding is like getting the lyrics and the
music. Conversation with understanding is like hearing the rules to a game and
then getting to play the game. Conversation with understanding is like getting
the aroma and the meal. Conversation with understanding builds compassion and bonds
us into the family of God. Conversation with understanding happens when we
follow the Biblical directive to ‘be quick to listen and slow to anger’.

People are amazing. God made them. People are also fragile.
They need support to get through this life. We build strong relationships and
strong people when we listen to understand.


God who inclines his ear toward us, God who created our
ability to hear and to listen, God who calls us to be in loving community, we
are thankful for those who listen carefully to us and want to know our hearts.
We are thankful for the close relationships we have. Lord, give me opportunity
today or this week to practice listening with the intent to understand. Help me
be intentional about hearing the hopes, dreams, fears and pain of others, so I
might be strengthened in my relationships and strengthen those around me. I
pray careful listening will help me grow to people and closer to you. Amen.