Dear Co-Laborers In Christ,
If I were King for a Day, I would decree that every American, and especially every Christian in the United States read Mortimer Adler’s book entitled “How to Speak – How to Listen.” Why? The reason is obvious.
Just watch the evening news, or listen to the talk radio hosts, or engage in social media, especially Face Book and Twitter, and it is glaringly obvious that people need to be taught how to listen and how to speak. Incivility has become the new normal. It seems as though people do not discuss issues anymore. When discussing issues people become vulgar, profane, hostile, and disrespectful towards those who have a different opinion or position. They demonize people, they try silence them through intimidation, bullying, and harassment. Many adults have become role models for bullying, and society wonders why children act the way they do on the playground.
The scriptures, Proverbs and James give us plenty of guidance on how God wants us to relate to people. Proverbs 15:2-4 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
James 1:19-21 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
James 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
James 3:5-12 How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
I found Adler’s book to be very helpful, because he provides counsel on how to listen to speakers, which is the key to having productive conversations. His book provides very good insights into the way we are to effectively express our thoughts and feelings verbally.
Just as the plants produce good and plentiful fruit in the summertime, spending time this summer developing your speaking, listening and reading skills by reading How to Speak, How to Listen will help you produce good and plentiful fruit for the Lord. Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.
Have a great summer!