Read Proverbs 18:13
13 Answering before listening
is both stupid and rude. (THE MESSAGE)
There is a decision we must make in life. We have to decide whether to be very busy or be good listeners. Point being we can’t be both. It is not as if being up and about using our time well is some sort of sin. Rather, if our life rhythm and activities does not allow us time to sit and really listen to another person we truly are too busy.
Listening can take time. If I have to rush off somewhere else, chances are I will be mentally clock watching, not giving that person a chance to reveal what is on their minds. Yet it is not as if listening needs to take a lot of time in every instance. Ten minutes of concentrated listening is good value. Even so, if I am rushing here and there I will be preoccupied with what I have to do next rather than giving focussed attention to that individual. So not much listening will occur.
When it comes to offering wise counsel, it is so much easier and less time-consuming to deliver a message rather than listen to a story. Having some preconceived notion of what I am to say prevents me hearing what the other person is saying. Hence what I have to say will not hit the mark—as our text frankly reminds us.
We can be preoccupied with activities which don’t give us time to listen and with our own pre-packaged words which don’t give us the space to listen. This can be so in our attempts to verbally witness to Jesus. Eugene Peterson says, “The question I need to ask myself is not how many people I have spoken to about Christ this week, but how many people have I listened to in Christ this week?”