Two Ears, One Mouth — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Two Ears, One Mouth — Morning Devotions

Listening is a form of love. Listening shows to other people that they mean something to you, and that you care enough to hear them.

By Chris WittsSaturday 22 Jun 2024Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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Walk into a room full of business leaders, and what do you hear? Usually a roar of noise. Everyone’s talking at once. No criticism of that—it’s the way it is. People love to talk, but who’s listening, I wonder?

I heard of someone who had a plaque hanging up on their kitchen wall: God gave us two ears and one mouth. He intends for us to do twice as much listening as talking.

Stop and listen

How many times have you ended up in a shouting match? You’re so intent on getting your point across that you’re not listening to your wife or husband, or teenage son? You both talk over the top of the other. I think it happens in a lot in families where there’s too much talking, and not enough listening.

When you find yourself in a discussion that’s going nowhere, stop. Stop and listen. Listening doesn’t mean you’re giving up—it doesn’t mean you’re agreeing. And when that other person sees that you are actually listening, they will most likely settle down—at least I hope so.

How would you rate your listening skills? What gets in the way of your listening to others? Maybe your attitude needs changing. Often, our biggest problem is we are too quick to speak. We become impatient. After all, I’ve got so many good ideas I want to tell you.

But the Bible tells us in James 1:19, “Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak”. That’s a translation I like from The Voice—harness your desire to speak. I believe God wants us to listen twice as much as we speak. Our problem is we are in too much of a hurry. St Francis of Assisi said, “Seek to understand before seeking to be understood”. It’s about showing respect to others.

Listen to understand—not to reply

Stephen Covey, the late educator and author, said, “Listen with the intent to understand—not the intent to reply”. And I think he was spot on. It means stopping and giving that other person your full attention. Nothing is more annoying than when the other is not paying attention to you. You can sense when that is happening.

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Of course there are times we should speak up. But ask for God’s help before opening your mouth in a volatile situation. How many times have you blurted out something, only to regret it, the moment the words left your lips?

We do need to train ourselves to think before we speak. Actually, we honour that other person by listening and trying to understand what they are saying—or not saying. A good tool is to say back what you think you heard them say. It clarifies what is actually going on. It is important that in this society that we become an effective listener. People have something to say and want to be heard. All some people need is a shoulder to lean on.

Listening is caring

If we are doing all the talking and none of the listening then many times we are not being heard because people tune us out. Talking too much can also get us in trouble.

1. Listening is a form of love. By listening, we put aside our agenda, we take a break from what we are doing, and we give our attention to the other. Listening requires selflessness and humility. It is a form of love, and love is good for relationships.

2. Listening shows you care. Listening shows you want to understand what the other person is experiencing, is feeling, and is thinking. When someone close to you senses that you are not really listening to what he or she has to say, that person is rightfully hurt. Not listening gives the message that he or she does not count, is not worth your time. Conversely, listening shows you care which in turn strengthens your relationships.

In his book Stress Fractures, Charles ‘Chuck’ Swindoll writes:

I vividly remember some time back being caught in the undertow of too many commitments in too few days. It wasn’t long before I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day. Before long, things around our home started reflecting the pattern of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.

I distinctly recall after supper one evening the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me about something important that had happened to her at school that day. She hurriedly began, “Daddy-I- wanna-tell-you- somethin’- and-I’ll-tell-you-really-fast.” Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, “Honey, you can tell me and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.” I’ll never forget her answer. She said, “Then listen slowly, Daddy.”

Listening shows the other person that he or she counts for something to you and so builds up your relationship.