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Always Speak Last
Let's step away from our daily planning for success and just talk about what that success looks like. Or more specifically, what it sounds like. The value of your life is largely tied to the strength of your relationships. And the strength of relationships depends on the incredible power of communication! Did you know that one simple decision can help you grow closer to people and be more influential in their lives? It's a conscious decision on your part, and it will take some self control. But the results make it so worth it! To learn more about this transforming decision, check out this episode!
So today we want to change gears just a little bit. We started in episode one by just talking about the resolve to just get better before we can put any strategies or tips in place so that you can see progress. You have to decide that you want to see progress. We discussed how Christians grow and we ask you to make some lists of things that you want to continue to grow in or begin growing in. So we hope that you did that. We came back in the second episode and discussed our first piece of information on how to make that happen. What we talked about is how every day of the 16 or so waking hours that you have, you need to set aside one of those to focus on God, God's will for your life, and your plan for the day. I talked to you about how I put mine at the very beginning of the day.
I pray to God. I think about God, I read the word of God. I write down things that God is showing me in scripture. I spend a little quality time and conversation with the wife and lay out the plans for the day. Hopefully you found that effective. You know in Ephesians five just to remind you, Ephesians five talks about how we need to make the most of our time. We need to make the most of our time every day because the days are evil. That is to say, they pass very quickly. Our youth passes very quickly and we want to be able to look back and see big differences. What we didn't talk about last time was the content of Ephesians five. Because the days are evil, here's how you need to use every day. You need to make sure that you're understanding what the will of the Lord is and you want to be influenced by the Holy Spirit and you want to give thanks to God and you also want to sing to encourage other people.
And be subject to one another. You know what's so great about that first hour? I spend that time doing half of these things. I'm talking about understanding the will of God and being filled and influenced by the Spirit and thanking God. And then I spend the rest of the time planning how to do some of the other stuff. Like how can I go encourage brethren today and what are some acts of service? So I hope you've given that a try, even if it's incremental progress trying to get it into place. So here's how we're changing gears today. No more of that for now. After you've made great plans, you've got to go out there and live that day. You have to go and interact with people and build relationships. So I just want to give you a tip on how the day may go better once you leave the house.
Simply put, our episode title is Always Speak Last. I want to explore the idea of being willing to listen and ask questions. When we say always speak last, we don't mean have no audible sound. We mean don't state your position first. Don't try to convince someone first. Start by asking them questions. Start by listening to them. If this sounds familiar to you, then you might be a fan of an interesting guy named Simon Sinek. Simon has written some great books. I have his book Start with Why and it's super helpful. We'll probably talk about it in the future. I've listened to podcasts from Simon, I've watched his interviews. He's just great. One of the most recent things he talked about, and keep in mind, this is all business application. He's not talking about God's people, he's just talking about human nature, but he talks about when you enter into a meeting, you need to be the last to speak.
If you speak first, you may be making an argument or answering a question when the question isn't even on the table. People won't respect you if you don't respect them. So what he advised is you come in and you say hello, but you open perhaps by just listening or maybe you ask a question, so what do you guys think? Or what's going on with you? Or how do you feel about this? And then you just sit there and you listen and here's what happens. When you do that, you learn, you learn about what people are going through or how they're feeling on a particular day. You learn what's important to them. You get a clear picture of what your words need to accomplish. Let me just say, if you're a person who walks in the room and just starts talking and influencing and pushing, you don't know if those words are useful or not because you don't understand the people that are standing in front of you and so it's a really great tip.
I've been thinking a lot about Jesus in the gospels. We just recently finished reading through the gospel of Mark, and this may not be the case every time, but I'm impressed by the brevity of Jesus' words. It just seems like so often, especially early in his ministry, he would enter into a scene where there would be opposers there and he wouldn't begin by lecturing them right away or trying to change them right away. He would just go about his business and let the scene develop and they would come to him. And they would pose questions to him or they would make arguments and Jesus would just listen, and once they were done, he would respond. And have you ever noticed how Jesus responses were always short and dead on the money? He knew exactly what their hearts were doing. He knew exactly what they were asking, and he answered it perfectly.
Now, of course, Jesus could do that because he could read every heart in the room, right when he walked in, he knew exactly what people were thinking. But you and I, we don't. That's why we often don't give the best answer. That's why we often don't convince people in our arguments because we think we know what they're thinking and we think we know what the answer is, but we haven't been listening. And so even Jesus, knowing all of those things was willing to let people sort of explore what they thought and ask their questions and then he answered. What we're recommending is that in that way, you become more like Jesus. Here's another great story that goes along with that. In Acts Chapter 15 there was this grand debate in Jerusalem in the early days of the church concerning whether you had to be circumcised, to be saved.
And so all of these Judaizing teachers show up and they're making their arguments, no doubt, and the apostles have come and there are elders in Jerusalem. But the guy I want you to think about is named James. James was an elder in Jerusalem. And as you read this story, there's all this debating going on, but you don't hear of James saying anything. Instead, he sits back and listens. Peter gets up and he tells the story about Cornelius and his conversion to Christ without circumcision. James processes that. The apostle Paul gets up and he talks about his first missionary journey with Barnabas and all of the different gentiles who were saved through baptism without circumcision. And all the while you can see James over here gathering it together and harmonizing it in his head. And so the text reveals in Acts chapter 15 that after they had finished speaking, James spoke, he spoke last, not that the others had made a mistake, they were giving evidence, but he was gathering that evidence and what he said was just so poinient and perfect.
He said, look, I've been listening and what they're saying agrees with what my research and the Prophet said, it all fits together. It's my judgment that we don't burden the gentiles with this Judaizing teaching of circumcision. And in the very next verse it said, everybody just agreed. I'm convinced that James's words had great weight because he knew exactly what needed to be said. He wasn't just making an argument that he felt like making, he listened first. He gathered information. This is an incredible way to enrich your relationships. I mean, I was telling you last week about the morning hour and how about 15 of those minutes are talking with my wife. The best way to do that is just ask her how she's feeling and what she has going on and let her speak. Find out where her head is at and then I can amplify what she wants to talk about or try to help her.
This is so important. Have you ever met somebody who just wanted to talk? And I don't mean that in a great, sincere, you know, needed you kind of way. Although that's great. That's important. But I'm talking about somebody who just walked in a room and they already knew the right thing to say, they knew what needed to be said. They felt like that they had a read of the room. But usually the people who speak first are the least listened to for one thing. They're just that person who spouts off all the time without gathering information. You begin to categorize that person. You don't want to be that person for another thing. They haven't listened. They don't know what the tone of the room or even the question is. You ever know anybody who answers questions that haven't even been asked? That's not an effective way to build stronger relationships.
And so one of the things that we want you to think about today is beginning by listening, by asking questions. If you want to speak, ask questions, gather information. Here's another thing that happens, the opposite of what I just described to you. I have some friends that are amazing listeners. They come in the room, they know I like to talk a lot and so sometimes I make the mistakes I'm talking to you about today and they listen. And one friend in particular, I'm thinking of, the first thing he says in a conversation is just him asking a question to learn more. It's remarkable. I love that guy. And so here's the thing, when he gets to the end of listening and learning, it's almost like every time he finally tells me what he thinks or what I should do or what might be a good idea, I'm just like wrapped up in it.
He always nails it right on the head and you wonder, I mean is this guy a genius or something? But it's not that, he's just somebody who's listening. So try that. Now. There's one other thing I want to leave you with here, your project for the day is pretty simple. Just really try to listen and learn before you speak, and not just speak, but react or feel something. We carry feelings into the room and they control what we do, but they may not be representative of what's really happening in the room. Let me give you the perfect example for this. Do you remember in the book of James when it talks about, be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger? Those are three great phrases. They're taking our title, what we're talking about today about, always speak last, and they're just laying them out in beautiful biblical words.
Be quick to listen, to gather, slow to speak, and also slow to anger. Now let me say something about that text and you can study this on your own and if you want to comment on it, you're welcome to do that. I'd love to hear from you on that, but I know that it will help in all my relationships. It will help the way that I interact with other people, but I don't think that's what James is talking about. I think what he's talking about is our relationship with the word of God. If you'll look at that text and you'll mark references to God's word, you'll see that the word of God at the end of chapter one is being mentioned just before that statement and also just after it and how you don't want that kind of anger and God doesn't want to see that in you.
He just wants to inform you and educate you. Let me tell you what I'm saying here. I think when he says, listen first, speak last and hold off your emotional responses until you've gathered information, I think he's talking about our relationship with God's word. So many people do this. They open the book or maybe they don't even open the book. They already know what God says. They already know what God wants. They already decided what's right and what's wrong and how they feel about it. How many people spout that and they really don't know what they're talking about at all and they haven't considered scripture at all? So if you would like at home in the morning to practice this, first and foremost, make sure you obey the scripture and you do it with God. Open the word of God and say, I will not have preconceived notions on what God wants me to do or be or think today I will first and foremost, quickly and with priority read and listen and gather and seek to understand.
I'll have something to say about that, but not yet. Not yet. God is talking. I will listen and I will wait on my emotional responses. And you'll find that your emotions will align with the will of God and everything will change. So here we are laying out just a simple concept for relationships every day. Sounds like it might help with your relationship with God and Bible reading and I'm sure I'm certain it will help build your rapport with your friends. It will help your responses be more useful. And I just guarantee you there'll be tons of payback on that in a great way on the way that friends respond to you and support you. So we hope you found that helpful today and just remember, go out there and make a difference, but try this: Always Speak Last.
Kris Emerson, a loving husband, father of four, and gospel preacher, takes a few minutes to go over some important life changing and spirituals insights.
- How to listen first before contributing to a conversation
- Why is listening important before speaking
- How to understand the room and then command its attention
- How to be respected by your peers for your knowledge and input
- What tips can help you "Always Speak Last"?