Before you read on, please stop and really consider this quote. When it appeared on my Instagram feed yesterday, I had to share it immediately with my wife.
Do you listen to understand or . . . to reply? This quote became a reality to Denise and me yesterday. We both have been extremely busy in all areas of life and needed a breather. So I suggested a place for lunch and planned a bike ride which would include a time of uninterrupted, focused conversation on one of the many benches along the bike trail. For a good while, we shared tidbits, observations, and blessings from our past few days. We were not in any hurry. After reading a marriage devotional and some selected Scripture passages, we had prayer together. How sweet to meet at the Throne of Grace as a couple. Then I shared some deep things from my heart with Denise. I asked her questions and listened. What a special time we shared together listening to each other and not being quick to answer.
I struggle at being a good listener. My wife and my girls, and I’m sure, my friends and congregation would say the same thing. The fact that my hearing is not good does not help matters, but it is not an excuse. Too often, I listen to reply. This quote along with the connection of Scripture has stirred me to realize that I must not be quick to answer, but slow to hear, to listen, to understand. For all whom I have offended in this way, please forgive me. I must slow down and listen for understanding, compassion and clarity.
Husbands and fathers, may I strongly urge you to listen to your wife and children with the goal of understanding. Don’t interrupt. Listen. Your wife and children will appreciate you more, and they will be willing to share their heart with you if you will listen to understand and not to reply or fix it.
If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. (Proverbs 18:30)
Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding. (Proverbs 2:2)
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)