James 1:19 says,
You know this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger;
This verse has historically been one of the most challenging for me, because I am a talker. I like to talk. Earlier in my walk with Christ Jesus, I wanted to be heard. In my mind it was about imparting some knowledge or something I knew the other person had to know. It was about what I had to say that was important, more important than the other person for I believed I had this vast storehouse of useful knowledge that must be heard!
Well, a leader asked me one day why was I always defending myself. Wow, that hit me straight between the eyes. At first I denied it, but then I saw it was true. The leader said to me, “You must understand before being understood.” Again, right between the eyes because they were right.
This verse is saying, “Listen first,” pay close attention to who is speaking. Listen intently and understand where they are and where they are coming from. I have found that doing this simple task allows the speaker to reveal more and then I can respond more intentionally and specifically about what they need. Miraculously, I don’t get bogged down in their situation or become anxious, I truly understand where I can help. If someone is releasing a burden, it is more plain to see and I am not trying to get my next words ready to respond. I am truly listening to them, their crisis, or their need.
This single intentional act has improved every relationship I have. Understanding before being understood puts my focus on serving the other person and not promoting me.
So when scripture says, “everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger;: that scripture is specifically speaking to me. ?