Little Ears . . . And Big Mouths
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19
In a moment of frustration, I’d blurted out hurtful and unprofessional words—and they’d been overheard. As we walked between buildings to set up for a women’s retreat, I grumbled to my two speaking partners that event organizers never seem to worry about the facility’s sound system. A few minutes earlier, the organizer had mentioned she had no idea if a sound system was in place. Imagine my chagrin when I turned around to see this woman right behind us, listening to my words. Of course, I later apologized for my unkind comment, but I couldn’t take it back.
Scripture warns us not to jump to conclusions: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). In our situation, the organizer had passed on our sound system instructions to the facility’s technician by email. But since she’d just arrived, she hadn’t had time to make sure everything was in place. To be honest, I hadn’t listened and simply expected the worst.
At that retreat I presented the book of Philippians from memory. That Scripture includes another relevant verse: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing” (Philippians 2:14). In my thank you note to the organizer, I mentioned that I needed to do better at living out the verses I memorized.
The sound system for this event worked fine, and through this situation, I learned a valuable lesson. My lips now stay zipped when I’m a hired speaker. Event organizers are good, yet imperfect, people. As am I.
God expects us to extend grace to one another. And although sound systems continue to be a challenge as we travel to various venues, God can use each experience to grow the fruit of the Spirit in us: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). The fruit grows as we draw near to Jesus, listen to what others say—and respond with kindness rather than frustration or anger.
Shirley Brosius, a contributor to Wholly Loved Ministries devotional project, is the author of Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference and coauthor of Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides, which she wrote with two speaking partners, Kim and Janine. They call themselves Friends of the Heart (www.friendsoftheheart.us) to speak at women’s retreats and events throughout the East. Shirley has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and devotional publications. She’s married with two married sons and a daughter waiting in heaven. She loves to read, write, and keep up with five grandchildren.
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