Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)

IN FOOTBALL, THERE IS ONLY one right way to tackle: with your head up, leading with the face mask. In such a brutal sport as football, injuries are all too common. By tackling the right way, with proper technique and form, unnecessary injuries are avoided. It a tackler has his head down, leading with the top of his head, somebody is likely to be seriously hurt. Sadly, the one tackling is most often the one injured in this scenario.

Here is the major point James makes; this is the note we are to take: to lead with our ears. That’s not a natural posture to take in relationships or in life. We are eager to respond in conversation. Many of us regularly stop listening to the other persons before they are done speaking because we are too busy formulating our responses. We don’t listen well.

What if we actually forbid ourselves from internally preparing our responses in conversation until after the other person was done speaking? How would that change our conversational patterns? How would that change the words we use in response? If we lead with our ears by really listening, our speech will be more properly shaped. Just like in tackling, correct form is everything in conversation.

Challenge yourself to listen more in conversation this week.

Brian Niece is a former pastor who is now pursuing a PhD, writing, spending time with his wife and three kids, and watching way too much football.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.