Reading time: two minutes.
“You have two ears and one mouth; do the math!” That’s a good way to put it. A friend told me once that he would scribble across the top of his meeting agenda, “CTTBYS.” That’s for, “Count to ten before you speak.” That’s not bad either.
I really like the Today’s English Version of Proverbs 18:13: “Listen before you answer. If you don’t, you’re being stupid and insulting.”
Now my mother told me never to say “stupid” or “shut up,” but maybe it’s okay if I’m talking to myself. Intellectual wellbeing is all about curiosity, especially maintaining a healthy curiosity about the people around me who are different than me. (By the way, EVERYONE is different than me!)
So my four words today, to simplify the matter of intellectual wellness are these: “Shut up and listen.”People surprise me. I’m way to quick to think that I have people figured out. I’m a great offender against young people, children especially, and older adults. I commit the sin of judging people by their height (“too little to have anything worth listening to”) and by their wrinkles (“surely must be starting to slip”).
That’s pretty stupid and insulting! Visitation of the home-bound was among my most challenging tasks as a parish pastor. It was mostly an attitude thing. Okay, it was entirely an attitude thing. As I think back on the hundreds, maybe thousands of conversations I’ve had over the years, I marvel at how many times I would hear older adults express their fears, hopes, dreams and passions so profoundly and richly, that my mind and heart were changed forever. Their insights and wisdom have been a wellspring from which I learned to drink deeply.
Sure, I had to hear about Millie’s surgery a few times too often, but when I was smart enough to shut up and listen, I learned some things.
I also regret showing up at youth group and acting like the expert in life, as if I were the fount of all knowledge, ignoring the perspective of young people in whom the Holy Spirit was alive and active, bringing freshness to the Word as it did it’s work in their young hearts.
What I’m really enjoying as I travel around the synod is hearing from pastors, educators and especially their spouses as they talk about life in the kingdom. There’s so much wisdom in our church.
I thank God for those who follow the Apostle’s advice: “Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you” (Ephesians 4:29). I’m being built up by what comes out of you.
“Lord, help me be curious enough to shut up and listen. Amen.”
Thanks for reading.
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