September 09, 2009

Be Quick to Listen

James 1:19-20

Everyone should be quick to listen, [and] slow to speak …
James 1:19


It sounds so simple: be quick to listen and slow to speak. For many of us, listening is one of the hardest things to do. We are quick to speak and slow to listen— and if we do listen, we can’t wait to offer our response.

Some parents never really listen to their children. They’re busy, tired, or preoccupied. Husbands and wives often pretend to listen while never really hearing each other. As one wife said to her husband during a counseling session, “Why talk? You never listen anyway.” Some children refuse to listen to their parents because they’ve heard it all before, and some teens don’t listen because they are convinced their parents don’t understand them anyway. In addition, some of us don’t listen because we don’t like what’s being said.

Learning to listen can change relationships. By listening to each other, husbands and wives will get to know each other and grow closer to each other. Parents and children will begin to understand each other, and some of the resentments people may have because no one is listening to them would disappear. God speaks to us through people, and it’s up to us to listen!

We need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us learn to listen. Ask someone in your family to let you know when you are too quick to speak and too slow to listen. Begin to practice the art of listening.

Lord, help me become a better listener so that I can really hear what others are saying to me. Help me to consider what’s being said, and then to speak wisely. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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