You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you wished you could rewind and erase what you just said? Even though I try very hard to be thoughtful before I speak, I have had enough of those moments to understand how painful it can be. I still remember the time I asked someone if the young child he was watching was his grandson – you guessed it — it was his son. Or the time I asked when the woman whom I thought was pregnant was due. Again, you’ve already guessed because it may have happened to you– she wasn’t pregnant and never had been pregnant. And, I have reacted more than once with a flippant comment about someone else’s political views. And the ones I regret the most are the comments to the ones we love — when we don’t listen, and are hasty with a thoughtless retort, or are infamous for having a quick fuse.
And it’s rampant in our culture. Instead of listening, we make assumptions about the other person’s intent, and jump to respond. The faster our pace, the more enmeshed we are in our opinions, the less time that we take to listen, so we react with hasty words, and often blast others with our anger. How about that late night email response you want to send to your annoying relative? Or that nasty Facebook post that you can’t resist writing? Or the one sentence voice-mail or text that shuts down any real conversation?
I once heard it said: “Before you speak, you are the master of your words. After you speak, your words become your master.” I’m pretty careful to think before I speak in public and around my friends, but I don’t always apply the same rules at home. I complain, vent, and just generally talk too much. So, when I ran across this quote plastered on Pinterest – I thought I would re-pin it as my personal reminder.
Before you speak, THINK.
Is it True?
Is it Helpful?
Is it Important?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind?
Jesus is my role model in listening. He listened carefully, responsively, was fully present allowing the person to speak and always pausing before he responded with what appeared to be the perfect response. I could learn a lot from him. Maybe it’s time to put it into practice.
Prayer Focus: Patience in everyday interactions
Good and patient Lord, teach us the power of the pause. Empower us to stop and ponder the impact of our words on other people. Teach us to delay, to breathe, to suspend our immediate responses in order to choose the best response. For you, O God value relationships – how can we do less? But we’re going to need a lot of help with that today – lead us and guide us.