The Lion and the Lamb

 In Featured, Pastor Jeff's Blog

You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. – James 1:19

A couple of weeks ago I was out with a friend. We were enjoying a great conversation, until she espoused a political view that differed from my own. What stunned me wasn’t what she said, but my internal reaction. I experienced an immediate rush of anger, and though she was still speaking I had stopped listening. Instead, I was already beginning to formulate my defensive response.

Fortunately, I had just completed some training in active listening and put it into practice.

First, I checked my gut reaction. I reminded myself that as remarkably brilliant as I am (read sarcasm here) I don’t know it all. I’ve even been wrong a time or two (yep, more sarcasm here).

Second, I shifted my mental frame from defensive to curious. Rather than formulating my defense, I chose to be curious about my friend’s perspective. I leaned in and said, “Tell me more about that.” And she did. I asked more questions to ensure that I fully understood where she was coming from.

In the end I didn’t agree with my friend, but she opened my eyes to things I hadn’t seen and opened my mind to things I hadn’t understood. And we’re still friends!

James encourages believers to “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry”.

Stephen Covey put it this way, “Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.”

If we are going to move forward in these divisive times, we’re going to need to follow that wisdom. If the lion can lie down with the lamb, perhaps liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, Packer Fans and Viking Fan can learn to live together well even when we don’t agree. And maybe even remain friends.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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