One day an old man was casually walking along a country lane with his dog and his mule. Suddenly a speeding pick-up truck careened around the corner, knocking the man, his mule, and his dog into the ditch.
The old man decided to sue the driver of the truck, seeking to recoup the cost of the damages. While the old man was on the stand, the counsel for the defense cross-examined the man by asking a simple question: “I want you to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following question: Did you or did you not say at the time of the accident that you were ‘perfectly fine’”?
And the man said, “Well, me and my dog and my mule were walking along the road … ” And the counsel for defense said, “Stop, stop, I asked you, tell me ‘yes’ or ‘no’, did you say you were ‘perfectly fine’ at the time of the accident?”
“Well, me and my dog and my mule were walking along the road and … ” The defense attorney appealed to the judge. “Your honor,” he said, “the man is not answering the question. Would you please insist that he answer the question?” The judge said, “Well, he obviously wants to tell us something. Let him speak.”
So the man said, “Well, me and my dog and my mule were walking along the road and this truck came around the corner far too fast, knocked us into the ditch. The driver stopped, got out of his truck, saw my dog was badly injured, went back to his truck, got his rifle, and he shot it. Then he saw that my mule had broken his leg so he shot it. Then he said, ‘How are you?’ And I said, ‘I’m perfectly fine.’”
“No behavior on our part is more self-centered than the demand to speak and the refusal to listen.”
― Robert E. Fisher
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”
– James 1:19, New International Version
James encourages us to Listen. Wait. Respond.
What would happen in our relationships if we practiced this three-fold plan?
- Listen… to really understand what someone is saying.
- Wait… till our typical initial impulse passes, till we’ve asked clarifying questions, and sometimes till we’ve prayed.
- Respond… with, graciousness, honesty, kindness and clarity.
If you, like me, tend to be slow to hear, quick to speak, and quick to be impatient, join me as I apply James’ great counsel.