listening: a greater service than speaking.


Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.

Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), pages 97-8.

7 responses to “listening: a greater service than speaking.

  1. A good point. As make all of your posts. I often think I have nothing to say. But when someone asks me how I am, from somewhere deep within, everything that’s been running through my head comes rushing out. It was then that I knew I needed that person to ask me; then that I knew I, too, was ready to listen to them.

  2. Ouch! This is an area that still needs some maturity. I love to talk and assume others love to listen. Surprise! They’re not “blessed” by my instructive words. Thank you for pointing this out.
    \o/

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