The Rev. Dr. Ian Chapman told this story:
My daughter was looking for a particular phonograph record and was calling several record shops trying to find it. She called what she thought was a record shop, but a local plumber answered.
Not realizing her mistake she asked, “Do you have 'Ten Little Toes and Fingers in Arkansas'?” The plumber paused for a moment, not knowing how to respond, and said, “No, but I have a wife and 10 children in Mississippi.”
My daughter asked, “Is that a record?” The plumber responded, “No, I don’t think so, but I’m sure it’s above average.”
Sometimes, the results are humorous. Sometimes the results are painful.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and, while listening, found yourself suddenly filling with anger? It seems as though the other person said something that you found to be offensive, hurtful or untrue.
You reply with an angry response, letting the other person know just how uneducated or misinformed they are.
And the reaction of the other?
Often bewilderment and defensiveness.
If you are talking with someone, and something is said that doesn’t seem quite right and you feel your anger flash, check it out.
Repeat to the other person what you thought you heard and ask if that is what they said. There is a good chance you heard incorrectly, or the person used words that could carry different meanings.
In the Bible — specifically James 1:19-20 — we read a very important message: “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”
Be quick to listen and slow to speak.
In other words, don’t jump to conclusions.
Gather all the facts before giving an answer or offering an opinion. Jumping to conclusions perpetuates the miscommunication. It causes anger to flash and lash out. This does not produce the righteousness God desires.
Instead, listen carefully.
Examine why something upset you. Perhaps a greater good can come from a calm and gentle response.
For example, Alice Lee Humphreys, in her book "Angels in Pinafores," recalls her experiences as a first-grade teacher. She tells about one little girl who came to school one winter day wearing a beautiful white angora beret with white mittens and a matching muff. As she was coming through the door, a mischievous little boy grabbed the white muff and threw it in the mud.
After disciplining the little boy, the teacher sought to comfort the girl. Brushing the mud off her soiled muff, the little girl looked up at the teacher and said in a quiet and responsible manner, “Sometime I must take a day off and tell him about God.”
Be quick to listen and slow to speak. This will have tremendous results for the kingdom of God.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.