I recently read a blog post where the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer were shared as it relates to listening (Gillis, 2014). One notable thing that he stated was, “Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening.”
I know many people who love to talk. Most people love to talk about themselves in particular. I have learned from being a counselor that if you just let people talk about themselves, they think you are a great listener. Some people just love to hear the sound of their own voice.
This reminds me of that old Irish proverb which says, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.” How often do we act as though we have two mouths and only one ear?
Bonhoeffer goes on to say, “Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies” (as cited in Gillis, 2014). His insight is supported by Proverbs 10:19 (NASB) which states, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” A lot of talking just seems to breed an obsession with oneself and a disregard for others. Perhaps this is a transgression to which Proverbs is referring?
There are many voices these days. Some of the voices are loud and over-powering. The voices want to censor others. They alone want to be heard. There are many people talking and very few are listening. No wonder the world has become such an angry, lonely place with many self-absorbed people.
Are you listening?
Gillis, T. T. (2014). On listening: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s advice to Christians. Retrieved from https://onbeing.org/blog/on-listening-dietrich-bonhoeffers-advice-to-christians/