Now that The Age of The Virus is pretty much over, my school has resumed its normal schedule of weekly events, most of which were shuttered during those two, long, pointlessly fearful years. Part of that schedule is Chapel on Thursday mornings.
Years ago, we had a regular chaplain, a crusty ex-Marine and Episcopal reverend whom I loved dearly (his widow gave me several of his shirts and a leather bag, which I still carry to this day). After his passing, we went through a parade of youth pastors of various stripes and backgrounds, and briefly brought in a charismatic black man who shouted inspirationally at the students (and frequently showed up late, or not at all).
We now have a young Spanish teacher—a very sweet, unassuming fellow, who is probably six-and-a-half-feet tall—who will serve as our chaplain. However, he’s a shy man—a gentle giant—and wasn’t quite ready to dive into Chapel this year. As such, the administration asked me to deliver the first little lesson of the year.
It’s a responsibility I took seriously, but also willingly. I prayed about what I should cover, and while flipping through a devotional from The Daily Encouraging Word, I found a good lesson from James 1:19 about listening.
It was a good, broad message that is applicable even for non-believers, and I thought it’d make a good, quick lesson for students, who often need to be reminded to listen closely and not to jump to conclusions (many adults—myself included!—need to be reminded of this lesson, too!). The five tips are directly from the DEW devotional, but I added in some verses I’d been mulling over from Proverbs.
It was remarkable to me how the Holy Spirit placed these related verses in front of me as I was putting this little talk together. I’ve been reading and rereading Proverbs, reading one chapter a day for each day of the month, and it’s really deepened my understanding of the wisdom contained therein. It just so happened that there was a great passage from Proverbs 25 the morning I was to give the chapel lesson, so it fit in nicely.
To God Be the Glory!
Chapel Lesson for Thursday, 25 August 2022 – Listening – Transcript
- James 1:19-20 (NKJV) – So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
- Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV) – A soft answer turns away wrath/But a harsh word stirs up anger.
- Proverbs 25:11 (NKJV) – A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
How many of you have ever said something you regretted? And how many of you have been talking to a friend and, while you heard what they were saying, you didn’t really listen to them?
Listening is hard! It is especially hard when our feelings are hurt. But it’s necessary to build up good relationships.
To be a good listener, consider these five tips:
- Listen without interrupting – it’s hard! But make the other person feel valued and heard because of your attentiveness.
- Try to understand their point of view, feelings, needs, etc. – give that person the benefit of an open mind—and…
- Don’t rush to conclusions! – it’s easy to assume the worst and get defensive, but listening intently helps!
- Don’t put the other person on the defensive with your own defensiveness – be patient and listen first.
- Accept their perceptions and feelings as valid expressions of a valued person – even if your friend is wrong, try to understand their perspective, and gently clarify the misunderstanding.
It’s easy to get defensive and upset and to speak in anger, especially when we feel attacked or misunderstood. But “a soft answer turns away wrath,” and an encouraging, understanding word “is like apples of gold.”
Feed your relationships by being a patient, understanding, and active listener—and reap a harvest of golden apples!