Be quick to listen, slow to speak – Listening before advising
Have you ever heard someone say something that you disagreed with to such an extent that you didn’t hear the rest of their sentence? Instead of listening, you’re formulating your response in your head so you’ll know exactly what to say as soon as they are finished talking. By this time in your mentoring journey in 365 Dad, I’m sure you’ve heard plenty you didn’t expect, seen decisions made you’ll never understand, and heard a line of reasoning that is so far from what you consider normal that you can’t even get your mind around it. Such is the journey of young men without a stable family and a consistent male presence in their life.
Our natural response is to begin giving advise as quickly as possible as if the advice of someone they are just getting to know will undo years and years of decision making without foundation or even a moral basis on many occasions. Relationships with these young men are not based solely on how good your advice is. They aren’t going to care about your success early on. They will simply think your success is a reflection on their own inadequacy and think they can never experience it.
The best way to gain their trust is to listen to what they have to say and suspend any judgement that comes into your mind. That’s the end result of actually doing James 1:19-20. While limiting our anger is more of the context of this verse, being quick to listen and slow to speak has other implications. When we listen fully and respond slowly and carefully, we prevent any anger or frustration from playing a part in our response. Their decision making may be so different from our own, everything in us screams out like Bob Newhart, “Stop it!”. ( I know, I’m showing my age here. Look it up on youtube, you’ll love it.)
In order to be quick and intent with our listening, we need to embrace Matthew 7:1 fully and suspend judgement. When we go into a situation understanding that these young men didn’t have the advantages we did, listening and being deliberate with our responses will come naturally. It will only be then that they see you really care about them and not just about the decisions they make. When you truly live out the Great Commandment and love these young dads as yourself, you become a much more willing listener, a more seasoned adviser, and truly exhibit the love that God has for them. As you grow in your care for them, they will become more vulnerable with you, allowing you to truly drill down and deal with real life issues.
The goal of 365 Dad is not just to give them the tools to being a great dad. Those are means by which you can build a relationship and speak the truth into their lives. You can be a proficiently functional mentor and give the best advice in the world and be totally ineffective. You can also be mediocre with the advice you give but incredibly effective in your relationship with your young dad. It depends on how much you care. They may not know it yet, but they actually need what you have to give. They just aren’t going to care about it until they know you care about them. That all starts with being a good listener and living out James 1:19-20.
There are a ton of list on how to be a good listener on the internet. If you are into those things, google them and you’ll have all you need. The main point of this post is let you know that the key to your relationship with these young men is to show them you care. That starts with making listening and advising equal priorities.
My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. - James 1:19-20