I have come to believe that listening is a lost art. People have a hard time listening to others, especially in their time of need. It is always interesting when you have an issue that you are facing and someone always has had something similar that has happened. Then they proceed to tell you their story completely disregarding what you were trying to say. Many times what they had to say had nothing to do with what you were going through.
I am sure most of us can relate to this, if you can’t relate to this, well, maybe you’re the one doing too much talking because everyone is listening to you. Anyway, Solomon wrote the words in Proverbs for a reason. Listening gives you time to gain an understanding of others, gain wisdom, and respond to their needs with the right words (which may include a story from your personal life, but not always). When we stop listening and interrupt to get our own thoughts in we devalue the person speaking. Listening is an important part of who we are as humans. We long to have people listen to us and people long to have us listen to them. The trick is, knowing when to listen and when to speak.
Solomon continues in Proverbs 18 verse 15 “The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (NASV) or, as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message “Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights.” When we speak too soon we may be missing something that might teach. Don’t allow your own story to be more important than someone else’s. If you aren’t willing to take the time to listen, don’t take the time to pretend like you’re interested.
We all need to vent, share a story, or talk about an issue we might be having, but we also need to be prepared to listen to people who have the same need. It takes wisdom to know when to listen and know when to speak and not all of us have that wisdom. However, it can be obtained by all, if we take the time to try. Sometimes, it may require us to just listen and not speak at all, but that takes someone like Jesus to know when that is supposed to happen.