Six Profound Words
“Know this, my beloved: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for anger does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19&20
I read this from Stephen Covey a whole bunch of years ago, “Strive first to understand, then to be understood.” It changed my life, kinda.
It sounded a lot like James statement, “be slow to speak and quick to listen”. First strive to understand the other person until they believe you understand them, then, be understood by them. Ok, slow to speak would help that, and so would quick to listen.
My wife nailed this a few years ago when our young daughters had a friend, Stacy, from school over to spend the night. No school the next day.
All our bedrooms are on the upper level of our home. My daughters’ rooms are across the hall from Sheryl’s and mine. In the morning I step into our master bath for a quick shower and discovered there were no towels on the racks. I open the bathroom door into our bedroom where Sheryl was across the room drying her hair and asked, “Are the girls’ downstairs? I need to grab a towel.” The linen closet was just outside our bedroom door.
“Yes, they’re downstairs having breakfast,” she said. I step out of our bedroom and into the hallway to the linen closet, while wearing only my underwear, and grab a towel. As I’m shutting the closet door, I notice Stacy standing there in the hallway inches away from me mortified to see her pastor standing in front of her in his underwear.
I apologized to her as my face and neck are turning bright red and firmly close the bedroom door behind me as I look at my wife and angrily hiss at her, “Stacy was standing right in the hallway, she saw me in my underwear!”.
I took a quick shower, got dressed, grabbed my bag and was heading out the door madder than hell, not wanting to see anyone especially Stacy…ever…again…when my wife stopped me mid-stride out the door. She grabbed my elbow, turned me toward her and said these words, “I’m sorry that happened. I’ll bet that was very embarrassing for you.”
And with those words everything changed. Up until that moment all I was mad. When she identified embarrassment as what I was feeling, I left the house laughing at how embarrassing that was and never wanting to see Stacy again rather than being mad at the world.
Sometimes when we are slow to speak and quick to listen, we can understand something about another person they may not even understand about themselves. At a minimum we understand what they think they believe.
Like Jesus. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro.5:8)
Before we even knew we needed a Savior, Jesus knew. He first understood what we needed and came to die, long before He asked us to understand why and listen to Him. Strive first to understand, then to be understood. Eight simple words. Slow to speak, quick to listen. Six profound words. Kinda life changing.
Pastor Kim Skattum, Senior Pastor
Crossroads American Baptist Church
Northglenn, Thornton and Fort Lupton