Are You Really Listening?

Are You Really Listening?

Of all the interpersonal skills that are needed to maintain great relationships, perhaps the biggest is the skill of communication. Let’s face it! Very few of us are great communicators. That’s because, by and large, we are not great listeners. You’ve heard the saying that God has given you one mouth and two ears; therefore, you should listen twice as much as you speak in any conversation. Our tendency is to do just the opposite. We want to make sure our opinion is heard, so we usually talk over others and never hear what they are saying. We just want to make sure that we are heard. 

The Book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings attached to the name of King Solomon. He spoke many of these proverbs, but several other authors are mentioned in the book as well. There is a lot of good advice in this book. You and I would do well to heed this collection of wisdom. This is especially true in the area of communication. Listen to this bit of wisdom:

“Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish” (Prov. 18:13).

One of the amazing characteristics of the ancient Israelites was their patience in listening to the other side in a conversation. Nowhere is this illustrated clearer than in a fascinating story found in Joshua 22. The background of the story is the completion of the conquest of the Promised Land. The Israelite tribes of Reuben and Gad, along with half of the tribe of Manasseh, had kept their promise to Moses and to Joshua that they would help the other tribes conquer their portions of the land. Recall that these two and one-half tribes had claimed their land on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Once their obligation to assist the other tribes secure their land on the western side of the Jordan was fulfilled, they made the trek back to the Jordan to cross into their own territory. At the Jordan they did an interesting thing. 

“But while they were still in Canaan, and when they came to a place called Geliloth near the Jordan River, the men of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh stopped to build a large and imposing altar” (Josh. 22:10).

Word soon reached the other tribes about what these men had done.  Their immediate conclusion was that these warriors from the two and one-half tribes had fallen into idolatry and built a pagan altar.  Grabbing their weapons, these other tribes made their way quickly to a place called Shiloh where they prepared to wage war against their kinsmen. They were certain that these “renegades” needed punishment for their desertion of the true God of Israel.

Before any killing began, however, the western tribes sent a delegation to confront the eastern tribes about the altar. Here is where the lesson for us is found. As the delegation shared their accusations against the so-called rebels, the men accused of idolatry listened. In fact, for five verses – 190 words in the NLT version – the delegation leveled charges against the warriors of Reuben, Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh. Note, these Eastern Tribes didn’t immediately interrupt the spokesman for the delegation to tell him he was wrong. They listened to the whole speech before correcting the facts and telling them this was just a monument to remind both the western tribes and the eastern tribes that they were brothers together. Their reply is also lengthy taking up eight verses.  The truth is, both sides took the time to listen to all the facts before giving their reply.

Most of us would have jumped in immediately to say, “You’re wrong!  We aren’t rebelling.” But they gave the courtesy to listen patiently to all that was on the minds of the other party in this dispute. We would do well to heed this example.  And this is just one of many incidents in the Old Testament of allowing others to say their piece before jumping in with your own opinion or defense.

“Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish” (Prov. 18:13).

If we are going to communicate well, we need to listen well! Practice the art of listening completely before speaking. You’ll find that such an approach can diffuse many sticky situations. Remember, people want to be heard.  Afford them the opportunity to share their thoughts before sharing yours. Become a great communicator by being a great listener!

If these weekly messages are helpful, why not pass this link on to others: www.clearing-the-fog.com.

One response to “Are You Really Listening?”

  1. Rob Carter Avatar

    Thank you for taking the time to write these, Pastor. It’s nice to be able to still tap into your wisdom.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

One response to “Are You Really Listening?”

  1. Thank you for taking the time to write these, Pastor. It’s nice to be able to still tap into your wisdom.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: