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“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20 NIV)

Life change happens when we are quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

Nothing will change your life faster than closing your mouth and listening.  Truly hearing what someone else says requires skill.   You cannot talk and listen to someone at the same time.  Shut your mouth, tune in your ears, and pay attention.  Stop assuming you know what they are going to say because you don’t.  After they stop speaking, repeat back to them what they said, ensure you understood them.  If not saying anything is difficult for you, put your hand over your mouth to help keep it closed.  Do whatever it takes to listen quickly, speak, and anger slowly.

Listen more, speak less.

You can’t regret what you don’t say.  If God wants something spoken and you don’t say it, He’ll give you another chance.  Err on the side of caution when using words.  Less is more.  Don’t finish people’s sentences for them; allow them the privilege of speaking for themselves.  Even though you think you know everything, you don’t.  Agreement isn’t necessary.  Relationships that don’t see eye to eye on everything are possible.  Learning to love those who are different is part of life.

Sometimes, we don’t let others speak because we are afraid of what they will say.  God’s love drives out fear:

“We know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love . . . because God’s perfect love drives out fear.”  (1 John 4:16,18 NCV)

Trust God’s love for you no matter what the situation.  Just because a conversation is difficult doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.  No matter how uncomfortable the words, God’s love stands strong.  Verbalizing hard emotions allows healing to begin.  Sometimes, we’ve caused the pain with our actions; listening to that feedback hurts.  But you can listen, not speak and not get angry.  Instead, let God’s love guide your response.  Take responsibility for your part in the pain, then work towards a healthy resolution.

Darrin Patrick, ex-lead pastor of Journey Church and chaplain for the St. Louis Cardinals, lost his position because he abused his power.  Part of his restoration process was listening to the people he hurt.  For two days, Darrin sat and said nothing as person after person described the pain caused by his words and actions.  Not until the second day did he realize the problem was him.  Only when he stopped talking and started listening did he learn the lesson.

Quick to listen.  Slow to speak.  Slow to anger.  Let these things change your life.

Question of the Day:

What of these three things are most challenging for you?

Further Reading:Ezekiel 37-38 NIV, James 1:19-2:17 NIV, Psalm 117:1-2 NIV, Proverbs 28:1 NIV

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