“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” (James 1:19)

Have you ever been involved in a conversation with someone who wants to do all the talking and none of the listening?

If so, you know that it can soon become a trying experience. You get two or more people who want to do all the talking, you really get an auditory mess. It can sound like a flock of chickens.

My father-in-law has several geese, and when they get to honking, they will drive you nuts. That may be a better analogy of a conversation with two or more takers instead of listeners. Regardless of the subject or the knowledge the talkers may have, they tend to talk anyway. It is heavy on noise and light on substance.

As Christians, we need to work more on our listening skills and less on our talking abilities. Charles Stanley was teaching on this subject recently. He was discussing the gift of teaching that many believers have.

He made the point that one with the gift of teaching is prone to dominate any conversation, simply because that is his spiritual gift. He makes a great teacher, but often not so great a conversationalist. Still, others just want to get their two cents in (or their two million cents), often blocking others from sharing their thoughts and feelings.

We must realize that there is a time to simply be quiet and listen. We do not have to say everything we think in every conversation, especially when conversing with new believers, non-believers; or when we are trying to offer Christian counseling.

As gifted and fluent as one may be in sharing the Gospel, there is a time to allow others to share their feelings. A broken heart does not need to hear how smart we are, it needs a caring ear to listen to how hurt it is. In tragic times, a listening ear is much more comforting than a busy tongue.

These verses from Proverbs will help us understand why we should become better listeners:

“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he hold his tongue.”

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.”

“He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.”

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning.”

This very day, the Lord may send someone to us who needs a listening ear and a soft shoulder to lean on. May we pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit to offer our ears to patiently listen to them, and hold our tongues until the Spirit gives us the right words at the right times. May we learn to be better listeners. Amen.



Dr. Sam Smith is a Jacksonville resident. He founded the Butterfly Ministry in 1999 in honor of his 16-year-old daughter, Stacey, who died in 1988. The ministry tells others of the saving grace of Jesus Christ through original music and testimonials. He may be contacted by e-mail at ssmithkate@aol.com

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