Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize.”
How many times have you made that apology in your life?
It happens all the time: we assume someone said or did x intending to convey the message of y. But often we’ve solved the equation incorrectly. And what we interpreted as y was in reality about z, which may or may not have had anything at all to do with us.
However, because we failed to ask for clarification, or because we let loose our annoyance, anger or frustration before the other person had a chance to say anything, we didn’t know that. And so now we find ourselves in the position of having to apologize. It happens literally all the time.
Why? Because we tend to do exactly the opposite of every point in this verse: instead of being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry, we are slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to get angry. When we do that, we’ll always solve the equation incorrectly. Remember, it’s two slows and one quick, not two quicks and one slow!
Many of us only tend to slow down to listen once when the other person reacts and begins to tell us exactly how wrong we got it! This isn’t a recipe for good relationships. It’s a recipe for a lot of frustration and a whole lot of time spent apologizing.
If you want to get to the right answer, remember the formula: quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to get angry. Two slows, one quick. Never the other way around!
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Are you guilty of being quick to jump to conclusions when judging others’ intentions? How often have you been wrong? Next time, how can you remind yourself to listen and ask questions for clarification before you go off half-cocked?
Prayer: Lord, teach us that listening is one of the keys to patience. As we go about our day, help us to reserve a portion of our patient listening for the benefit of the people who are most near and dear to us. Remind us that our relationships depend on our willingness to listen quickly and react slowly. Amen.