Amy Hafner, GFC South Tampa
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19
At the beginning of each year, I pray for a word, a theme per se. Then, I ask, “God is there something you want me to focus on?” Almost instantly, I heard, “listen.” I was hoping for a grander word, if I’m completely honest. Instead, I thought, “Listening, I’m so good at listening…well, I think I’m good at listening?” But as the year has carried on, this word has proven to be a challenge, an obstacle, a hindrance in my state of play.
You may have heard this phrase, “By the way God put our bodies together, He encouraged us to listen twice as much as we speak. That’s why we have two ears and one mouth.”
- Listening is an act of service and love.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also in the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
This year I took on a new leadership role, which instantly I thought, “I’ll be doing most of the talking, right?” Wrong. To be a servant leader, you must listen much more than you speak. Hearing what others have to say shows that you care, builds relationships, and creates understanding. Listening to people does not mean you agree with them it means they are important and you value them as a child of God.
- Good listening reflects our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Before I became a Christian, I remember Christians telling me how they would consult the Holy Spirit for wisdom in situations. I thought, “That is so weird, so you’re telling me there is this spirit that actually comes and tells you what to do.” So how do you decipher your own voice from God’s voice?
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17
God’s voice doesn’t contradict God’s word or the Bible. Building a strong relationship with God means spending time with him, worshiping, praying, and of course, reading what He says. I know the Bible can be an intimidating book. It may be hard to get started, but don’t let that stop you. Pick up an NLT or ESV version of the Bible (these are different translations written in more modern terminology), join a Bible study, or ask for help. Out of all the voices we hear and listen to, God’s voice needs to be the loudest.
3. Listening prepares us to speak well.
“Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success. Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!” Proverbs 15: 22-23
Ever say the wrong thing? Have you ever misspoken because you didn’t know the entire story? Ever have a plan fail that you tried to execute yourself? The Bible tells us to have many wise advisers and to seek wisdom before speaking, but it’s also important to speak up at the appropriate moment. Listening helps us better understand situations, builds trust, and helps us to be empathetic. Proverbs 18:13 says a fool “gives an answer before he hears,” a wise person tries not to draw conclusions, values constructive criticism, and doesn’t formulate an opinion until he or she knows the entire story.
Father, help us to listen to what you say. Let us not only hear what you say but do what you say. Help us to have ears that not only hear but listen to those who are hurting and to those who are wise. Help us be humble enough not to speak if the timing isn’t right, and when we speak, let our words glorify you. Thank you for always listening to us and loving us right where we are.