My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry… James 1:19 (NIV)
Shortly after my wife and I married, a friend paid for us to go to a weekend marriage seminar. At the time I wondered why he would give us this gift. My wife and I both thought we had a pretty decent relationship, and we certainly didn’t need any marital advice.
The seminar highlighted the need for good communication. For most of the weekend, we practiced listening to each other. I had a hard time understanding the need for such exercises. One partner was asked to voice a frustration to his or her spouse, and then the spouse was supposed to repeat back what he or she heard. It went something like this:
“Sweetie, I feel frustrated when you leave socks on the bedroom floor.”
“Honey, what I hear you saying is that when I leave my dirty laundry on the floor it makes you feel like I don’t care about you. Is that right?”
To be honest, it felt silly. I thought there must be some more advanced topics we could discuss that would guarantee a happy marriage.
Now that I’m quite a bit older, I realize just how important listening is. My tendency is to talk too much and listen too little. Taking my wife’s feelings into consideration doesn’t come naturally.
The truth is, you can never be too good at listening. It’s one of the best ways we communicate love in any relationship. When we listen, we show that we care about the other person’s thoughts and feelings.
God’s Word agrees. In the book of James we are told to be quick to listen and slow to speak. And in Ecclesiastes, it says we should not be “quick” with our mouth; our words ought to be few (Ecclesiastes 5:2).
How are you at listening?