During my second year at Bible School God brought my attention to the ‘tongue’. So I read all 31 chapters of Proverbs with one word in mind, what does the Bible teach about ‘the tongue’? Well, the Bible has a lot to say about it. It wasn’t an easy lesson to learn! In my reading this morning I came across this little devotion that reminds me about my second year at Bible school. This is from the book “FACTS OF THE MATTER- Daily Devotionals by Dwight Hill”.
Theme: the art of listening.
Question: How will we tap into the wellspring of a person’s soul to know what is going on in their life?
“The purposes of a man‘s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” (Proverbs 20:5) (See Psalm 64:6; Proverbs 18:4; 1 Corinthians 2:11)
Three principles that will help us in practicing the discipline of listening:
1. STOP TALKING SO MUCH
Isn’t it true that we simply talk too much? “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19) (See Proverbs 17:27, 28; Ecclesiastes 5:3; 10:13; James 3:2)
2. VALUE THE OTHER PERSON AND HIS INPUT
If you don’t, you will not believe he has anything to contribute in a conversation. President Lyndon Johnson kept a sign on his wall, “You ain’t learning nothing when you’re doing all the talking.” Isn’t there an object lesson in the fact that God gave us one mouth, and two ears? Apparently, Solomon concurred, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning… ” (Proverbs 1:5a) (See Job 34:16; Proverbs 9:9)
3. LISTEN WITH THE INTENT TO UNDERSTAND
French psychiatrist, Paul Tournier taught that true communication is “the meeting of meanings.” That is, grasping the definition behind the words. That takes disciplined listening! Steven Covey says, “many people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.” If we are to connect with people communications-wise, we must assume the attitude, “I am more interested in what you are saying than in thinking of what I‘m going to say, once you‘re through talking.”
David Swartz reminds us that “big people monopolize the listening. Small people monopolize the talking.” And James asserts, “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (1:19) (See Proverbs 13:3; 15:2; 18:13; 21:23; James 1:26; 3:1)
Dewey Knight relates, “My best advice came from a friend immediately after I was named to a top… job: ‘Son, in this job you will have millions of opportunities to keep your mouth shut. Take advantage of all of them.‘”
QUESTION: Are you willing to demonstrate your respect for others by sublimating your ego needs and truly listening to them? If not, forget any notion that you are in fact a mentor or discipler.