“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness” (James 1:19-20).
We have an increased opportunity to run our mouths more than any other generation. That’s because we can effectively run our mouths not only with our actual mouths, but with our devices as well. We have at our fingertips the ability to broadcast our deepest thoughts, most profound opinions, and hottest takes more easily than ever before. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why we are such a loud people – it’s because we have the opportunity to be loud.
But into the throng of noise steps the command from James – the command to listen. Not tweet. Not broadcast. Not Facebook live. But listen. And then be slow to speak in all the various ways we can.
As parents, we should take heed, because as parents, we have the tendency to speak rather than listen.
It’s happened to me several times – it’s probably happened to you as well. I have found myself having to apologize to my children because I have reacted too quickly, judged too harshly, evaluated too completely – in short, I have spoken rather than listened to my children. I have come upon a situation, made a quick judgment of what was happening, and then immediately set myself on the task of dispensing a fatherly lecture, only to find out that I was misunderstanding or misinterpreting the situation entirely.
I have assumed and spoken, rather than asked and listened. And assumption is the enemy of listening. And pride is the friend of assumption.
There is a certain humility you must embrace if you are truly going to listen first rather than speak. It’s the humility that acknowledges your own limitations – that you might not know all the information; you might not be privy to all the details; you might not understand all the dynamics. And this is especially hard for us, as parents, because we would like to know that we do indeed know all the dynamics. If we assume a posture of listening, we are admitting that perhaps we don’t know everything our kids are feeling or thinking or believing.
But if we do embrace this humble posture; if we do ask genuine questions of our children; if we do fight assumption and instead try to understand, then we will set the table for communication that follows. And I for one want my children to know that their father is certainly not perfect, but he will always hear them.
Today, parents, you and I will all come upon a situation with our kids that needs to be dealt with in some way. Here is where we bring God’s Word to bear – that we fight the pride of assumption and approach that situation with open ears instead.