READING: Proverbs 16-18, 2 Corinthians 6
“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”
I write this devotion with honesty that is painful.
I started in full-time ministry in 1981. I was 20 years old, and I was fairly certain that I knew all I would ever need to know to do ministry. After all, I was the youngest pastor in our area, and our church was growing as fast as any. Surely I had all I needed to be successful the rest of my life . . . .
I look back now, though, and I realize how little I knew. More specifically, I’m embarrassed to think about how prideful I was (and still can be). I thought I was right about everything. Nothing was gray to me; others either agreed with me, or they were wrong. My legalism and my arrogance only built walls, however. My tendency to be quick to speak and slow to listen cost me much as my hasty speech revealed my faulty heart.
So, my heart is gripped today by these words from the writer of Proverbs: “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Prov. 18:13). That’s where I was in those days. I didn’t listen well to others, but I expected them to listen to me. I gave answers before I truly understood what the question was. Dialogue was non-existent. My monologues were common. I’m sure I cut off more than one conversation before my church members had a chance to explain their concerns, my interrupting them more often than I care to remember. I was, to my shame, too much like the fool in Prov. 18:2—“A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions.”
Those years were a long time ago, but I wonder how often I do the same even today. Do I ever answer my wife before hearing her? Counsel a church member without knowing the real issues? Answer questions before they’re asked? In general, speak before listening?
I fear I still have much to learn.
- Listen well today.
- Speak little today.
PRAYER: “God, help me to listen before I speak.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Proverbs 19-21, 2 Corinthians 7