Day 13: Proverbs 13: 1, 10
A wise son hears his father's instruction,
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
By insolence comes nothing but strife,
but with those who take advice is wisdom.
- Parents can be a source of wisdom for their children.
- In healthy families, parents care for their children and want what is best for them.
- A child who is able to listen to his/her parents and open to learning is sensible.
- A child who scoffs at or mocks his/her parents raises a barrier to listening and learning.
- If two people are having a discussion and one of them is acting in an insolent matter, the stage has been set for conflict.
- If someone who cares about you offers you advice, it makes all the sense in the world to listen carefully to that person.
A common thread in verses 1 and 10 of Proverbs 13 is listening. We have a listening God who has given us the gift of listening and wants us to listen carefully to our brothers and sisters. "...let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger." James 1:19 (ESV).
Sadly, however, many of us are very poor listeners. If you beg to differ with this conclusion, sometime this week, take careful note of as many conversations as you can and grade all of the listeners in those conversations. Are the listeners resisting distractions, looking the speaker in the eye, being empathetic, concentrating on everything that is being said, asking insightful questions to ensure their understanding of what is being said and letting the speaker finish speaking?
In his book, "The Listening Life" Adam McHughposits that listening is essential to a healthy relationship with God and others and places listening at the center of our mission in the world. How do we equip ourselves to hear carefully what God may be saying to us through others? One of the many things that struck me about McHugh's book is his reference to and explanation of a portion of King Solomon's prayer for wisdom. "Give your servant...an understanding mind to govern your people that I may discern between good and evil..." 1 Kings 3:9 (ESV) McHugh notes that in this passage the Hebrew translation of "understanding mind" is "a listening heart". What is a "listening heart"? It is a servant's heart. More specifically, McHugh tells us "... the listening heart is one that seeks to give, to learn, to welcome, to serve..."
Wow. I don't know about you, but having a "listening heart" sounds very challenging and time intensive. In his book "Life Together" Dietrich Bonhoeffer makes it clear that listening generously is indeed ministry. "We do God's work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them. So often Christians...think that their only service is always to have to 'offer' something when they are together with other people. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening."
Would others describe you as someone who is "quick to hear" and "slow to speak"? Are you a radically compassionate listener? If your answer to either of these questions is "no", this Lent consider asking the Lord to help you develop a listening heart in order to more effectively and compassionately serve your family, neighbors, co-workers, brothers and sisters, and strangers in need.
Heavenly Father- Thank you for being a listening God who has given us the gift of listening. I need your help, Lord. I want to be able to listen generously, but in order to do so I need more of you. Lord- please give me more humility, patience, selflessness, wisdom and concentration when others are speaking to me. Oh, Lord- please create in me a listening heart.
- Jack Lewis