Don't Get Defensive
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17 NIV).
After one pastor had preached his first sermon at his new church, a guy walked over to him and said, “Pastor, that sermon stunk.” The pastor was trying to be reasonable and open about it and asked, “What didn’t you like about it?” The man replied, “In the first place, you read it. Second, you read it poorly. Third, it wasn’t worth reading in the first place.” After he walked away, another man came up behind him and said to the pastor, “Don’t listen to old Jim. He just repeats what he hears everybody else say.”
Are you a reasonable person? Can your kids reason with you? The Bible says if you’re wise, you’re reasonable. You’re open to suggestions. A wise person does not antagonize others’ anger, does not minimize their feelings, and does not criticize their suggestions. Most of us are overly sensitive. If somebody makes a suggestion, we take it as a personal criticism and we get defensive. But a wise person can learn from anybody!
Wise people are not defensive. They’re not stubborn. They’re open to reason. They’re willing to listen and learn. James 3:17 describes wisdom as “submissive,” but that word really means reasonable, willing to listen, and open to ideas and suggestions. The Living Bible says, “It allows discussion.”
If something is true, listen and learn from it. If it’s false, ignore it and forget it. “A fool thinks he needs no advice, but a wise man listens to others” (Proverbs 12:15 TLB).
Talk It Over
Do you think of yourself as a reasonable person? Would your family members agree with you? What about your co-workers?
Are you more likely to get defensive or to listen willingly when you disagree with someone? Why do you think this is so?
What have been some of the most important lessons you’ve learned from simply listening to other people?
This devotional © 2018 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.