90/10 RULE

James 1:
19 My Dear Brothers And Sisters, Pay Attention To What I Say. Everyone Should Be Quick To Listen. But They Should Be Slow To Speak…

There’s a funny Instagram post where our youth pastor Adam White is doing renovations in his house and a song from the Disney film Frozen is playing in the background. He steps out into the hallway where his wife Emily has called him. In a frustrated voice, he asks, “Why is your camera on?”

“Because you are listening to Frozen.”

“So!” and he steps back into the room where he was working. It’s very funny.

What makes me laugh is the frustration and the defensive he shows over something silly. I laugh because I have been in situations where I get frustrated and defensive when I do not need to.

In the matter of being ‘slow to speak’, I have found myself in stupid arguments because I went from the fight or flight emotion right to the commentary. Have you found that an unsettled heart makes lousy speeches?

If I were to say everything that pops into my head at the moment of its arrival, I would not have any friends or family left. Do we even know how we sound to others?

If you want to develop as a quick listener and slow responder, you need to be self-aware. If you constantly blurt out everything you are thinking, that will include your opinions before they accurately measured. You will say things that you will later regret and make it hard for people to listen to you.

I wish I had a good strategy for people that only are interested in talking about his or herself. Have you met people like that? They take no apparent interest in your life other than someone else they can talk over. If you do get a word in, they quickly turn the conversation back around to their opinion, their interests and their experiences.

If that is you, it can be stopped. First, you have to realize that others need to be heard. If you are not asking good questions and taking an interest in them, they are not really feeling the reciprocity of true friendship.

There are many times that I find myself living by a 90/10 rule. I listen 90% of the time and ask questions and share thoughts with the other 10%. That’s good for pastoral care, but it’s not a good basis for intimate sharing and friendship. It is a good discipline for learning how to be slow to speak and add value to the other person.

Part of being slow to speak, is to become aware of your short list of important opinions and talking points. Have you met people who always tell you the same thing over and over? You can grow your opinions and talking points by becoming a better listener. Start to see that everyone can teach you something. You can learn from anyone. In order to listen more, you will need to talk less and take mental notes.

If you don’t know what to say, try to think of meaningful questions or things that you can affirm in the other.