"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." - James 1:19 NLT
Every person I know, or have met throughout my life, hopes to have healthy and meaningful relationships. Around the many campfires of Warm Beach Camp I have had the privilege of listening to people experiencing the joy that comes with healthy relationships and the pain of broken families, marriages, and friendships. There is a common thread in all of it: People long for good relationships in their lives.
Good relationships have some things in common. Here are three points of wisdom from the Bible for anyone interested in cultivating healthy, Christ-centered relationships in every sector of life:
Be quick to listen: Listening is the core activity in understanding someone else’s perspective. We live in a culture where “quick to speak” is the norm. Talking all the time gives no room for understanding someone else. Constant talking turns the focus on oneself. Listening is the foundation for knowing other people.
Be slow to speak: It has been said that true listening is not thinking about the next thing to be said as soon as there is a break in the conversation. Listening consists of receiving what the other person has to say, and actually reflecting on it before responding. Ask clarifying questions about the content of the conversation to encourage further understanding. Resist quickly trying to get the next word in.
Be slow to get angry: Anger in relationships does not produce healthy results. Hot-tempered and quick flashing anger creates incredible instability within other people. Trust and safety become eroded. There are appropriate uses for anger, but it is far less often than we might think. Don’t turn to anger over the insignificant. Don’t come to anger quickly. Reserve anger as a response to significant issues in a relationship that are not right and need to be addressed in an urgent manner. Even then, be slow and careful in showing anger in a way that communicates true concern because the relationship is what really matters.
Consider increasing your ability to listen to others. Focus less on what you are going to say. Only use anger in thoughtful and measured ways that communicate true concern for the relationship regarding essential issues.
God’s Word comes through again, giving us wisdom for all of our relationships.
Ed McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center