Listen Before You Speak
June 05, 2007
Attention is costly. Otherwise, we would not have to pay it. Like any sound investment, paying attention pays well.
The teacher in Proverbs 5:1 says that by listening well to his words of insight, we can maintain discretion and preserve words of knowledge with our lips.
The path to good speaking is from the ears to the head, through the heart, and out the mouth. Most of us listen some, at least peripherally. We listen selectively. We listen with bias, thinking we know what to listen for and extracting tidbits to bolster our own arguments and pitches.. consequently, we lose both discretion and knowledge. What proceeds from our lips is not nearly as instructive, edifying, and truthful as it could be.
Solomon admonishes us to listen well. To pay attention this way costs us time and energy. The cost is in the spelling of WELL:
W - Listen with WONDER - That is jaw dropping, gaping, eyes-wide-open awe and inquisitiveness. we come to the school of life and sit at the feet of our elders expecting to learn, awed by our own lack of knowledge and the vastness of what can be known in the larger presence of what cannot be known. Without wonder and reverence for the unknowns, we have nothing to say.
E - Listen with ENGAGEMENT - That is exemplified in the picture of a student on the edge of his or her seat, staring at the teacher, glancing down at the paper, feverishly taking notes, asking questions, making mental application, and processing the new found knowledge outside of class. Engagement increases the volume of learning exponentially.
L - Listen with LAUGHTER - I do not mean frivolity, sarcasm, or contempt. I mean with a sense of fun and enjoyment. Let joy fill your learning. The ancient Hebrews spoke of the law as a thing of great joy and celebration. "To think," they must have thought and said, "that someone in Heaven, the Creator of all things, cares enough for us to give us such practical instructions on how to live in peace, harmony, and justice." Learn with laughter and learn to laugh at yourself when you see yourself in the bad examples. Things will get better.
L - Listen with a LOVE of learning. Cherish the opportunity, every opportunity to listen to the wisdom and insight of others. Ask deep questions and linger long over the words being shared with you. Allow them to go from your head to your heart. Soon they will proceed from your lips and you too, will be a preserver of knowledge.
It will cost you something to listen well, but you can afford it. it pays well.