James 1:19 (AMP) “Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.”
As most of you know, I am “winning” over a diagnosis of ALS, a disease that attacks nerves and muscles. That, along with three procedures last summer that required tubes down my throat, have done a number on my vocal cords. So, when I talk there is not much volume, I sounds like a girl, and my words slur. It doesn’t hurt, but it is quite the challenge when on the phone and repeatedly referred to as, “Mrs.” Kinchen. The good thing is I know it’s only temporary (in Jesus name)……and I have some pretty funny ways to let them know I’m a man.
Why am I sharing this with you? Well, it’s because I have really learned something (not that God put this on me so I could learn something) very important. I have learned that the biggest part of a conversation is NOT the talking, but it is the LISTENING. I know that sounds crazy but it’s so true.
Whenever I am in a crowd, like a noisy restaurant, it’s impossible for me to speak and be heard. So, I listen. I watch and observe. I “pay attention.” Guess what I have noticed? EVERYONE IS TALKING BUT VERY FEW ARE LISTENING! And I mean really paying attention, undistracted attention. People are hearing but not listening. They “look like” they’re listening, but their focus is on texting, watching people, fiddling with their phone, and that is just what’s visible. There is no telling where their mind is traveling while they are “listening.” I am confident when I say, “There are thousands of words spoken, but very few are actually comprehended by the other party.”
I know I’m talking about person-to-person conversations, but let me make it spiritual for a second. How is your prayer life? Is your prayer time mostly words or mostly listening? Usually, our prayer time consists of us talk-talk-talking, with our requests, questions, complaints, and ideas. And then we say, “Amen” as we run out the door doing our own thing. Sound familiar? Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if we hung around long enough “listen” to the answers and comments the Lord has for us concerning what we just prayed? For me, it sure seems the more I listen, the fewer words I have to say. A good friend of mine, Pauline, says it best. “Here I am, the one who knows nothing, in the presence of God, the One who knows everything, and I’m the one doing all the talking! Something is wrong with this picture!“ Amen, Pauline!
More on this topic later. Until then, “Pay Attention.”
Pastor Kevin Kinchen