It’s SO hard to find good friends these days. Everyone is so busy talking about and promoting himself or herself that no one is giving anyone else a chance to be heard.
Listening is a lost art in America – and each of us needs to do our part to bring it back like never before. If you want to be a good friend in an age of foes, you need to (re)discover a few basics about life on planet earth the way God designed it. If you don’t, you’re going to struggle at the exact time when you should be enjoying the time of your life.
We’ve become a nation whose people have mistaken talking AT one another for listening TO one another. There is a huge difference – but most of us don’t seem to understand it. The news media, social media, and human nature are working overtime these days to bring every conversation back to the focal point of me, myself, and I.
But a good friend knows how to listen.
A self-absorbed world makes for a very lonely, unsatisfying existence. Yet we are living in the most technologically advanced time in history, where entertainment options abound. Should we be surprised that depression, suicide and opioid addiction have become the new norm in America? Not at all.
Life becomes boring, empty and dangerous when we choose to live it outside of our design. We were designed to not only talk, but to also listen. When we fail to listen, we choose to live in a manner that cannot help but sell us – the people we encounter – short.
How To Master The “Quick, Slow, Slow” Lifestyle
We shouldn’t be surprised that the roadmap to a fulfilling life is presented in the pages of the most ancient, yet timeless, book in history – the Bible.
James 1:19 says “. . . take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
America, these days, is characterized by the exact opposite. People are slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to become angry.
Haven’t you noticed that people everywhere seem to be on edge these days? It’s not healthy – and that’s why each of us needs to do our part to reverse the trend.
Ask yourself, “Do I really practice the quick, slow, slow approach to living?”
Take James’ words to heart and do all you can to put them into practice in every interaction you have. Don’t worry about mastering this approach for the rest of your life – just do it for seven days and then refresh your commitment again on day eight. This approach is a great way to develop a new habit in any area of life.
If you don’t get a grip on the only life you’ll have this side of eternity, something else will. Today’s default approach to living constantly pulls us back toward interacting with others as if they are of secondary, rather than primary importance.
But Paul, in writing to the Philippians, reminds each of us that we are to live contrary to human nature and the ways of the world. We are, in humility, to consider others better than ourselves (Philippians. 2:3). If all we do is treat others as equal to ourselves, we aren’t going far enough.
Humility seems to be our big problem these days. It’s why everyone seems so caught up in his or herself – and why so many of us have such hard times finding and fostering friends. Make it your ambition to be the kind of person who is quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
Your entire life will change – and you will begin to positively impact others at the precise time when they are being negatively impacted at every turn.
Michael Anthony is the Founder and President of Courage Matters™ and author of “A Call For Courage: Living with Power, Truth, and Love In An Age of Intolerance and Fear.” He is a popular speaker and blogger, and lead pastor of Grace Fellowship in York, Pennsylvania. You can enjoy his content on the free Courage Matters app and CourageMatters.com. The opinions expressed in this piece are his own.