My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19 – 20
I love to read blogs. I visit two (only two) chat boards –Studio Calico for scrapbooking ladies and I recently discovered this one frequented by some incredibly wise Christian women. I do a lot more reading than I do commenting – both on blogs and on boards.
Part of the reason is I’m afraid of how anything I might say will be received.
You see, several years ago a gentleman from church shared with several of us on a committee that people tend to read emails negatively. And I assume the same is probably true of comments on blogs and chat boards.
Meaning if there is any way for my comments to be seen as hurtful, rude, critical, heavy-handed, bias, flippant, somebody will probably take them that way.
How often do I read to the negative? Or hear to the negative for that matter? Am I one of those people who assumes the persons words were meant for the bad? Or do I give the benefit of the doubt to the writer or speaker?
I think I need to be quicker to listen, and very slow to anger. And I mean really listen – hear the story the speaker is trying to tell. Sometimes those who have an important story to tell are not graceful in articulating what they want us to hear. I have to pay attention to the details. Hear the whole story. Otherwise I might miss a cry for help. Or not realize how much someone is hurting even when they say everything is fine. Or miss an opportunity to build someone up with encouragement.
I need to remember that not everything is about me. A suggestion to do something one way is not a statement of disapproval of what I have done in the past. An idea presented as a possibility is not an insult to what already is.
Slow to anger. . . slow to anger . . . slow to anger. I think that means slow to be offended. When I am offended most of the time that means I did not listen to what the person was saying, and I was focused on me. Me, me, me! How embarrassing!
How often do others misinterpret what I have to say – reading or hearing the negative? Can I convey my messages with the listener/reader in mind? Is that even in my control? Is my desire to control that just going back to focusing on me?
I often use many words to make sure there is no room for misinterpretation. But it just ends up coming off as defensive. Problem is when I use all those words, trying to be sure nobody can read between the lines and get the wrong message my communication becomes messy and garbled. Heavy. Disjointed. Easy to misinterpret.
Perhaps that’s where the hardest part of James’ admonition come in to play – SLOW TO SPEAK.
Before I speak, I need to be certain what I have to say is important, and that my motivation is to edify others, not bring attention to myself. Because the person on the receiving end of my words is important.
I can’t hear when I’m busy speaking. I’ll miss their message if I am not lovingly careful.
I can’t focus on the other when my mouth is moving – as good at multitasking as I think I am, talking and listening are not things I can do at the same time. I need to remember to be a good receiver so that the other can be heard.
I wrote this blog in response to the “Words Matter” challenge at Roscommon Acres blog. Dana there has a heart wrenching story of late, but she is wise and calm and faithful. I highly recommend reading her blog if you get a chance.