It’s Tough to Listen When Your Lips are Moving

Proverbs 19: 27 Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

Elite Athletes Listen to Their Coaches, Do You?  Some book or article titles are so good that you really don’t need to read them to understand their message.  In this article, the author, Dr. Art Markman, makes the point that elite athletes have spent years honing their craft, they have incredible abilities [that only a small percentage of the world possesses], yet the best ones listen to their coaches.  If those, with apparently the least to learn compared to us mere mortals, listen to their coaches, Markman asks, “How about you?”

Markman goes on to say that athletes resist advice of others for two primary reasons:  1) getting advice requires the admission that we might be wrong; 2) we are typically on our own course of action already and we therefore give less weight to other’s advice.  The bottom line is that taking advice requires humility.

Dr. Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, has recently gained a significant following through his YouTube channel where he criticizes political correctness.  His recent book 12 Rules for Life has been particularly popular as it represents a no nonsense, practical self-help book.  As Peterson draws fairly heavily from the stories of the Bible, it is not surprising that there is significant wisdom in the Rules.  Rule 9, for instance, says: “Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.”  Here, Peterson is going even further than suggesting you listen to your coach, he is suggesting this approach in all your interactions.  He’s not saying you need to agree with, or even follow the advice given, but he is suggesting approaching each discussion with humility, because you might actually learn something.

I have friends of all ages, ethnicities, and even religions (including atheist and agnostic).  I have learned something from every one of them.  It has in no way affected my core Christian beliefs, but my interactions with them has broadened my understanding of social issues and increased my knowledge base, and often challenged my own integrity when I see them demonstrating greater virtue themselves.  In return, because I show humility, they are far more open to listen to me, and it has opened up many evangelism opportunities, some of which led to conversions.

James 1:19 says: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”.   And Proverbs 18:13 says: “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.”  Bottom line – if your mouth is moving, it’s difficult to listen.

If you want to continue to grow in your faith, if you want to continue to be sanctified, then you need to look at yourself critically.  Ask yourself, “am I a good listener?”  When I meet a new person, especially someone who might be significantly different than me with differing views, am I “quick to listen” or am I already formulating my counterpoint and digging in my heals?  Are you coachable?  You should strive to be the most coachable kid on the team, the most coachable person at work, the most coachable person at your church.  If you are not a coachable person, but instead a proud man, woman, boy or girl, I don’t need to have the gift of prophesy to foretell your future.  It will be filled with great sorrow and loss.  “Pride first, then the crash, but humility is precursor to honor.” (Proverbs 18:12 The Message).  Choose to be coachable!

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