Today take the time to discover more about the people around you.
June 29, 2017, 5:00 AM

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

To answer before listening – that is folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13

A common cultural phenomenon is the “how are you?” drive-by. This takes place when one person out of habit asks another “how are you?”  The question serves no purpose because the asker walks past without even waiting to hear a response. The words no longer serve as a question, but have become the replacement for the regular greeting of “hello.” If someone actually bothers to stop and listen then an unspoken rule comes into play. Regardless of how you might actually be feeling, when posed this question you are required to follow common protocol in your response by saying “good,” “fine,” or “can’t complain.”


This exchange of formalities happens numerous times throughout the day. Chances are good that the overwhelming majority of them were ordinary and routine. You tried not to step on any toes while you both did the dance of self-protection.  Now imagine if you crossed the line and told someone how you were doing when they asked. Do you have a picture of what their response might be if you expressed that you were struggling with something in your life? Some would express their sympathy and then continue on their way while others might continue on having presumably heard the expected response of “good…and you?” A select few may actually stop in their tracks, drop what they are doing and take the time to listen.


Our culture has programmed us to keep people at arm’s length. Having perfected the art of image management, we struggle to develop deep relationships that go beyond the casual. The majority of our relationships, along with the conversations we participate in, remain at this basic level while we try to survive in self-preservation mode.  We center our sights on general issues while the important details of our life go largely ignored.  Time goes on, surface conversations continue and casual relationships get built on a false premise. Since we gain bits and pieces of information along the way, we confuse knowing about a person for truly understanding their whole story. Holding this mindset allows one to be lazy with asking good questions that drive to the heart. When it comes to our relationships, we often don’t honor the value of discovery.


All of us would say there are people in our lives we know really well. It could be a family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker. What chapters of his or her story are you missing? Where do they doubt God’s faithfulness? What big life questions keep them up at night? How much do you know about the family they were raised in and the effects it had on shaping them into the husband or wife standing before you? Are they content in their marriage, career, and purpose in life? If they are a parent, do they feel hopeless when it comes to raising their kids? Are there areas in their life where their integrity is compromised? What past mistakes are they struggling to learn from? Who or what do they struggle to forgive?


Today take the time to discover more about the people around you. Dig deeper by asking good questions and listening. There’s probably a lot more happening below the surface than you can see.


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to listen first and speak second. Lord help me pursue understanding in my relationships. There are people all around me who have questions, scars, and doubts. They are just waiting for someone to listen. Jesus show me how to be that person today. In Your name, Jesus Amen.