“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger ...” James 1:19 (ESV)
At the end of every summer when my kids were growing up, I could always count on one thing. The day before school started, anxiety ran rampant. As the sun began to lower, my children’s uneasy emotions rose higher as unanswered questions came to the surface.
Will my friends from last year be in my class this year?
Will my teacher like me?
Will I have someone to sit with in the lunchroom?
I would try to answer every question to settle their hearts. Looking back, I wish I had simply been a more empathic listener, allowing them to get all their nervous questions out in the open without me needing to share all the solutions.
Sometimes in life, what we need more than anything is someone to simply listen. An ear that will take in all the rumblings of an apprehensive heart and not feel the need to say a thing. A person who will not be in a rush to try to make it right.
I’ve always been a better talker than a listener. In fact, a well-meaning teacher once made me memorize James 1:19, which says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger …” Up until recently, I had viewed this verse as the voice from my childhood, saying, “Lynn, you talk too much.” Recently, though, I began to look at it as instruction for my roles today as daughter, mother, wife, friend or co-laborer — a challenge not just to talk less but to truly listen to those around me.
James gives us the wisdom and the challenge to be the empathic listeners others desperately need. He calls each of us, no matter what role we are filling at the moment, to slow down and listen.
Not mentally preparing to share a story from my life.
Not scrolling through the verses I can recall so I can adhere a Band-Aid on their sadness.
Not reminding them to look on the bright side so I can dismiss their feelings that are making me uncomfortable.
Not moving on so I can get to what’s left on my to-do list. (Yes, I’ve made all of these mistakes before!)
Instead, James, while reminding us we are loved, calls us to move quickly to a position of listening and to move slowly, even with caution, to a place of speaking.
I am so challenged by James’ words. I’m a get-’er-done kind of gal who wants to set things right so I can move on to setting other things right. James reminds me: Getting things done is not the goal. Loving people well is the goal. Listening is loving people well.
With Jesus’ power in us and James’ words before us, you and I can love people as we listen well.
Jesus, my natural bent is to be quick to speak and slow to listen. I want to love people well, just as You did. Empower me to slow down and truly begin to hear those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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Have you ever had a moment when you felt totally alone? Have you ever been afraid that if people really knew you, they wouldn't like you? In the moments when we shy away from letting people know us, or in the moments when we feel alone, we can look at what God says about us in His Word. “You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.” (Psalm 139:1, NIV) We made our “Known” Cuff to be a tangible reminder to turn to in the moments you need it most. Click here to shop now.
Knowing our Father always listens to and loves us can help to still the anxiousness even in young hearts. Loved & Cherished: 100 Devotions for Girls by Lynn Cowell and co-author Michelle Nietert, written for girls ages 8 — 12, instills this truth. Get your girl her copy here.
Lynn Cowell and her co-author, professional counselor Michelle Nietert, want to equip you to be the empathic listener you desire to be! Stop by Lynn’s website today, where Lynn and Michelle will gift you the downloadable discussion “Become a Better Listener.” Click here to get yours!
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (ESV)
The book of Proverbs provides much wisdom for those of us who struggle to listen well. Take a few moments to look up these words of King Solomon — Proverbs 1:5, Proverbs 18:13 and Proverbs 18:2 — and then write out your own personalized proverb to yourself to follow.
Who do you know that you would say is an empathic listener? What specific qualities do they exhibit? Let us know in the comments!
© 2021 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.
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