Speaking to the Soul – May 7


Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. Proverbs 12:15

There is all the difference in the world between hearing and listening. Hearing is a physical process, and it happens all the time whether we like it or not. Listening however is a matter of choice. When we listen we deliberately tune in to what others are saying and reflect on it. It is a way in which we show love and respect to other people.

It’s a great privilege when someone listens to us. We know we have their full attention and it is as if we are the only person in the world in that moment. We feel valued and affirmed. Listening is the most wonderful gift that we can give to another person. It appears a very easy thing to do but it is, in fact, incredibly demanding. It demands our focused attention and is a very tiring thing to do for any length of time.

I love the ditty: “His thoughts were slow, his words were few and never formed to glisten. But he was a joy to all his friends. You should have heard him listen!” The truth is that a person who is good at listening will never be short of friends!

The writer of Proverbs saw listening as a crucial quality of a wise person. As ever, he contrasted the wise person with the fool who doesn’t bother to listen because he is so confident that he knows what is right. If we are honest, we have probably all been guilty of that from time to time, and we need the reminder to spend more time listening carefully and generously to others. We won’t always love what we hear, but we need to reflect on it carefully before we make our decisions.

How good are you at listening, and how do you think you could improve your listening skills?

Lord God, forgive me for those times when I have not listened carefully to others. Give me the humility and grace to listen with increasing care. Amen