Post this at all the intersections, dear friends. Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.
James 1:19 (The Message)
How often do you find yourself speaking first, reacting with some type of emotional response second and then either not bothering to listen at all or listening only as a last resort? If you are like me, this order of communication can happen sometimes.
I believe that, as humans, we all have a desire to be heard by those around us. Whether we are communicating with co-workers, family, friends or acquaintances, we all have the desire to make our thoughts and feelings known to others. But, I also know how easy it is to have miscommunication happen during a conversation. I know that there are times when someone is speaking, rather than my listening carefully to what they are saying, I am already formulating my response. My full attention is not being given to the speaker. And, often, my emotions can get in the way and cloud my ability to really "hear" what someone is actually saying. That means I might take offense when no offense is meant. I might become angry, even though the speaker is not trying to anger me. I might "hear" something, because of my emotional response, that was not meant to be interpreted in a negative way. Listening first, rather than last, is very important according to today's scripture.
As I think about this scripture from James, however, I not only think about human communications that I take part in, but also my communication with God. And I pause to ask myself some questions:
If you read on in this first chapter of James, the scriptures are quite clear on these points.
"Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear!"
These words are important food for thought for me as I go forward in the days to come. I'm definitely posting these words at all of the intersections of my life. How about you?