Saturday, May 27, 2017

learning to listen

Today in A Year with the Church Fathers we hear from St Clement of Alexandria. He tells us that it is very important to avoid insulting others, especially saints.

But he said something that made me think. He said it's better to remain silent (spelled with the same letters as "listen", btw) than to speak ill of someone "and add sin to our ignorance." We all have ignorance in some areas, right? Even the smartest person you've ever met is ignorant about some things. We humans can't know everything. And so the wise thing to do, especially in a new situation with new people, is to keep our ears open. To listen and learn. To dispel our ignorance by learning what those around us think and believe and feel. Then, when the time comes, we can speak a word of wisdom into their situations... into their sitz im leben, which means their life circumstances... that makes sense to them and brings them help and healing.

If we don't listen first, even the most well-intentioned statement or advice will miss critical aspects of their life that will make it less effective. If we really want to meet people where they live (which the best communication of any kind does), we need to listen far more and speak far less.

Thank You, God, for teaching us another way to become wise.