“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
James, who was the half brother of Jesus, wrote us in his letter a few action steps to become a more patient person. He writes: “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” (James 1:19) That’s pretty opposite of how most of us respond when we’re in conflict. Chances are, we respond with “I’m not listening, I’m going to tell you exactly how I feel right now” while our face gets flush. Our kids do that to us, don’t they? But James is giving us a secret on how to respond well to our kids, and to others. Why do we respond with patience? Because it’s love’s first characteristic. How do we respond with patience? By first being quick to listen.
Being quick to listen means that we don’t drown out the words of our kids by talking over them. It means that we allow them to talk first, even when we are frustrated or angry. Why does this help us become more patient with them? It shows that we care enough about them to hear from them first. It shows that what they have to say is just as important as what we have to say, even if we know and will still do what’s best for them. It calms us down long enough to hear things from their perspective. We really don’t like it when we get talked over, or when we don’t get to explain our side of the story - and so do our kids. If we want to become more patient, we’ve got to be quick to listen first.
Questions to think about:
Do I talk over my kids when I get frustrated with them, or do I let them speak first?
How might being quick to listen change how my interactions with my children go in the middle of conflict?
God, thanks for the reminder to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Thank you for listening to me when I talk to you, and I pray that I would show my family and my kids how much I love them by choosing to really listen to them each day. Amen.