February 28, 2018
Learn to Listen and Listen to Learn
19Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear,
slow to speak, slow to anger; James 1:19
I used to think we were a racially or economically divided nation. At least that’s what some would have me believe. The truth, as I see it, is that the greatest division is political. That is the most challenging of all divisions because politics involves everyone. Defined as the “art or science of government” it affects all people, even those who want no part of politics.
While we are united in our common need for government, we are sorely divided over how best to be governed. Of course, other divisions affect politics: religious, geographic, racial, and socio-economic, but in themselves, they do not create division. They do not establish policies over how we ought to live. They are descriptive. Politics is of necessity prescriptive. It results in laws.
How can the art and science of government work better? James suggests that our communal life, whether family, church, or state, will prosper when we learn to listen. (“Be quick to hear, slow to speak.”) Yes, we do have to learn to listen. It is not natural for us to put aside our agenda, answers and opinions long enough to learn what somewhat else is saying. It takes work. It takes reflecting back to the speaker what you heard, so that he or she knows that the information was accurately conveyed and received. That doesn’t happen in a shouting match. (“slow to anger”.)
When we learn to listen, we can listen to learn. We are much wiser voters when we have opened our minds to facts and possible solutions we have not considered before. Listening also can help us discover that some “facts” we know for certain are not as true as we thought, or we uncover mitigating aspects that change how we received them.
Learn to listen, listen to learn: It’s not only the way to interact with each other, but also with God. Learn to listen to His Words, and you will learn so much about Him and about yourself. The greatest discovery is that, in Christ, we are not divided from His love, nor from each other. It is amazing what we can learn when we listen.