Daily Riches: If You Had to Choose: To Speak or To Listen? (Eugene Peterson)

“Listening is in short supply in the world today; people aren’t used to being listened to. I know how easy it is to avoid the tough, intense work of listening by being busy as when I let a hospital patient know there are ten more people I have to see.  …Too much of pastoral visitation is punching the clock, assuring people we’re on the job, being busy, earning our pay. Pastoral listening requires unhurried leisure, even if it’s only for five minutes. Leisure is a quality of spirit, not a quantity of time. Only in that ambiance of leisure do persons know they are listened to with absolute seriousness, treated with dignity and importance. Speaking to people does not have the same personal intensity as listening to them. The question I put to myself is not “How many people have you spoken to about Christ this week?” but “How many people have you listened to in Christ this week?” The number of persons listened to must necessarily be less than the number spoken to. Listening to a story always takes more time than delivering a message, so I must discard my compulsion to count, to compile the statistics that will justify my existence.” Eugene Peterson

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen
[and] slow to speak….”
James 1:19

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you more intense when you speak, or when you listen?
  • Do you ever feel regret after a conversation that you have spoken too much and listened too little?
  • Do you have a technique to subtly let someone know that at the moment you’re too busy to listen to them?
  • Listening that ministers requires “unhurried leisure”, where the person feels “treated with dignity.” In your listening, do you treat others “with dignity?”

Abba, help me to love by listening well. By my listening may others sense their importance to me – and to you.


For More: The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson


These “Daily Riches are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. Please follow my blog and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s