Self-Control Week: Just Push Pause

“He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” (Proverbs 18:13)

One of the greatest conversational skills you can master is a simple one: Pause. It’s the length of the gap between the words that often determines the difference between saying something wise and helpful or spewing something foolish and hurtful.

clock_350Pausing, though, requires self-control. It requires turning off our “assuminators,” the part of us that thinks we already know exactly what the other person means before they finish saying it. It requires listening all of the way through to make sure we’ve got it before we respond. It requires the hardest thing in the world we can do with our lips: Leaving them closed for another few seconds.

James called the pause being quick to listen and slow to speak. For some, it means getting comfortable with moments of awkward silence, being fearless about quiet eye contact, growing to love the ticking of the clock as we search for the words that are true, honorable, and kind.

Think: How hard is it for you to let a moment sit for a second before saying something? Do you wisest friends tend to answer quickly or slowly? How could you slow your responses down a little?

Pray: Ask God to help you to listen before answering and to be wise and helpful with your words.

Do: Read more of what James has to say about our words in James 3:1-12.