Proverbs 23:9,12, 23 “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words…Apply…your ears to words of knowledge…Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding.”

Proverbs 23 has a few things to say about when to speak and how to listen. There are people who do not know when to speak or when to listen, and others who are good at one or the other, but it is rare to find someone who is good at both.

I remember speaking to a man who was unemployed and asking for money.  I asked about his work experience and why he wasn’t working. He told me he was new to the area and their were no jobs available. At the time, unemployment was low and employers were desperate for new hires. I countered every excuse with facts only to be offered another excuse. I knew the discussion was futile and invited him to meet me that evening and I would introduce him to someone who would help him find employment. He didn’t show up that evening. I was speaking to a fool and he despised my words.

Listening is also as important as speaking. I know there have been times I have been given advice and argued it, or tried to explain away my opinions or actions. There have also been times I have been distracted and missed parts of conversations. I can look back and understand what I missed and how I failed when I ignored good advice, but I will never know what I lost by allowing myself to become distracted from a conversation.

What I have discovered is that I cannot force a person to understand what I am saying. Some people what what they want when they want it and nothing I say will move them. I have also learned the value of listening and considering the advice of others. In the end I may disagree and dismiss the advice, but I have at least considered it and given self the opportunity to learn and grow.

Jim Disbrow – Sioux Falls