Oh, the Mistakes We Make When We Do Not Listen


Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. —James 1:19-20 NLT

“Can you please let me finish?” sputtered my husband, as I once again assumed I knew how he was going to finish a sentence and finished it for him. We both felt a bit exasperated. I wanted him to speak more quickly, and he wanted me to listen more slowly. Then God reminded me of the verse in James that totally backed up Ray’s point of view. I should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. My hurry-up attitude is not in line with what God wants for me. So, when it came time to choose a word for 2024, the choice was obvious. I need to learn how to listen better.

As I’ve reflected on this, I’ve come to realize that there are oh-so-many mistakes we make when we hurry up a conversation instead of slowing it down. Here are just a few:

  • Responding quickly doesn’t honor the person speaking or their words. We cut off their train of thought and prevent them from fully sharing their heart on an issue. This is not kind. And it can definitely produce anger.
  • When we are composing our answer while the person is speaking instead of listening to their actual words and thoughts, we are far more likely to misunderstand and respond inappropriately.
  • We’ve all discovered the sad consequences when we only half-listen to directions about where to go. The likelihood that we’ll miss a turn is huge.
  • When we don’t listen carefully, we can miss beautiful treasures. Hearing a person’s heart enables us to love them better and serve them more compassionately. Whether it’s a child with a fear, an older person with a story that defined a part of their life, or a spouse with a hurt, we gain understanding and appreciation when we slow it down and listen, not only to their words but to their hurts and heart behind the words.

So here’s what I hope to do this year as I study the word “listen” and practice speaking slowly and listening long:

  • Discover more about the people in my life, learn their likes and dislikes, and be gentle with their hearts.
  • Learn more about God Himself as I slow down and study His words in the Word, gleaning more truths about who He is and who He’d like me to be.
  • Seek to think more about others and less about myself, living more sacrificially in my relationships, and following Paul’s advice to the Philippians, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:3-4 NLT).
  • Stop more frequently to listen to the wind in the trees, the birdsong in the air, and the rush of the waves hitting the shore at the ocean. I am so thankful that with a hearing aid, I can literally listen again. In May last year, I was almost deaf. I want to practice gratitude as I listen to all the beautiful sounds in nature, in the voices of those I love—and in the silence of a morning quiet time with the King.

As I pray about this, day by day, I comfort myself in the sure knowing that God listens to me and hears the desire of my heart to grow in this area. God is never in a hurry for me to finish a thought! I don’t have to make my long stories short for Him. Spending time with Him, learning from Him, and listening to Him this year with this word in the forefront of my mind will be an adventure. I’m thankful we can always grow closer to Him, learning new things each day He lends us breath. Aren’t you?

I love the LORD because he hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath!

—Psalm 116:1-2 NLT

Father God, the fact that You care enough about Your children to bend down and listen is astounding. Thank You for hearing us when we cry out to You and granting us mercy and so much more. I want to pray as long as I have breath, breathing out words, and then listening and gathering in all You have for me. Help me to learn to listen better, please. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,




Sweet Selah Ministries

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and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
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5 Comments. Leave new

  • THIS has been a problem in my family. it is RARE that others don’t talk over me or assume they know my intended thoughts. it has caused a lot of tension between myself and my husband as well as my kids. Many times I just clam up. Thank you for sharing.

    • Sharon Gamble
      January 22, 2024 7:04 pm

      Dear Valerie, Thanks for reinforcing to me the need for patient listening with a kind heart. I don’t want to talk over or assume, and I am sorry this often happens in your case. I think many of us need to learn more about how to be quick to listen and slow to speak. God bless you, and I hope it gets easier.

  • Margaret Fowler
    January 22, 2024 11:02 pm

    A very timely message. Especially in an argument, it is vital to listen first before we jump in and miss the point. We owe it to the other person to listen carefully so we can reply with understanding. Always remember, we just might be wrong! And give grace always.

    • I guess my word should be, “listen” also. I’ll Maybe my word should be “listen ” also. we’ll see. This devotional just proves that not listening produces misunderstandings which lead to anger and bitterness over a long length of time. I have gone through a divorce (not a nasty one) but still rough. Thank you for sharing this and hopefully will help and heal relationships ♥️


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