Mark 4:9 – He said, “Whoever has ears to listen should pay attention!”

Gratitude Day 761


I find myself saying this to our grandkids over and over these days.

To the three-year-old, WAIT until you are holding someone’s hand when walking.

When someone wants a snack, WAIT until we get into the cooler.

“I don’t want to be late for practice.” Yes, but WAIT! Do you have your cleats, bats, gloves and water bottle?

We probably say, “Wait!” more often than we realize. Or care to admit.

Today, let’s think about “Wait!” in a different context. Recently, I ran across this acronym for “Wait!” and I think it is worth sharing.

Why Am I Talking?

Yep, a completely different focus. “WAIT!” is now about how we listen and how much we speak. Let’s be honest. It is really more about listening than speaking.  

Why am I talking?

Most of us know someone who really, really LOVES to talk. Like all the time. Never-ending. They can go on and on and on. About anything. About nothing. Sometimes, they have something interesting to say. Other times? Not so much.

Hubby Rick describes it this way, “That person just raped my ear.”

Last winter, we were on vacation. We arrived at our room and there was a note on the door directing to go to the front desk for assistance. The couple next door to us were in the same situation. The man from this couple and I headed towards the front desk. The woman in the other couple stayed behind with Hubby Rick.

It took awhile before things got straightened out. Like over an hour.  I arrived back at the original room first and assured Rose that her partner would be right behind me with a new room assignment.

Rick and I were barely out of ear-shot when he used his line about his ear being bent. In the hour he waited for me to return, he assured me that he had not said 100 words. Yet, the conversation never stopped. Rose shared her life story with Rick. Literally, her entire life story, when Rick gives his version of what happened. Details he may or may not have needed to know. Way more information that Rick really wants to know when just meeting someone for the first time.

In his opinion, Rose needed to WAIT. Maybe she could have asked herself, “Why am I talking?”

We also know that person who seriously is a good conversationalist. They have a knack for sharing engaging things. Asking questions. Drawing out things from others easily. People find themselves sharing things with the great conversationalist that they rarely share with others. The words just kind of pop out without really thinking about it.

What’s the difference?

The good conversationalist knows that carrying on a great conversation means they do more listening than talking. And when they talk, they ask leading questions which encourages others to share more about themselves than they may have intended.

I often say that there is a reason God gave us one mouth and two ears. God intends for us to listen twice as much as we talk. Unfortunately, many of us forget the appropriate ratio between listening and talking.

It takes intentionality and skill to allow others to share more words in a conversation than you do. Doing so means allowing ourselves to take a back seat in the conversation. It is becoming comfortable with letting someone else have more of the spotlight in a conversation. Doing so means you might do a lot more head nodding and simply saying, “Oh!” and “Really!”  But often, the other person will walk away from the conversation feeling like they have really, really been heard. Maybe, for the first time in a while.

If we look closely at how Jesus most often interacted with other people, we find this is how he responded to others. Yes, he spoke and shared. But he often asked questions and guided people along in their conversations.

Why was this important? It allowed him to listen. Hear. Get to know the other person. Allow the person to share those things that are difficult and personal and not often spoken aloud.

Jesus became a master at this type of conversation. Think of how quickly he gets into very deep conversations. People like Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who sought Jesus out in the middle of the night so others would not know he wanted to find out for himself who this man really was. Or think of the level of vulnerability the woman at the well shares with Jesus within just a few minutes of her arrival at the well. She showed up in the heat of the middle of the day, hoping not to run into anyone else because she is ashamed of her life. Yet, in Jesus, she finds herself confirming specific information that she probably kept carefully hidden and guarded from sharing with others.

When we WAIT in our conversations, we choose to engage in conversation in certain ways:

  • We may or may not have to share our opinion. Sometimes, it is important to share specifically how we feel. Other times, not so much. We can actively listen without having to agree or disagree. When on trial, Pontius Pilate asks Jesus multiple times to defend himself. Jesus knows this is not going to end well, no matter what. And so, he chooses to say nothing. Most of us would not be so brave. But Jesus is.
  • Too often, we have this need to “fix” someone. Maybe fixing or encouraging someone to change is not the most important outcome. More often, we just want someone to LISTEN. Seriously. Listen. More than once, we find Peter putting his foot in his mouth when he says something without thinking. Jesus could have easily embarrassed him or chided him for speaking without thinking. Jesus does neither.
  • Likewise, too often, we have this need to “win” a conversation or discussion. Maybe, “winning” is less important. Can we simply hear the other person’s opinion? The religious leaders drag an adulterous woman to the city square and want Jesus to declare her as guilty. Instead, he turns the conversation around when he says, “Whoever has o sin, you get to throw the first stone.”
  • Rather than having an agenda with our conversation, let’s use time together to connect. Support each other. Appreciate what is going on in this person’s life and offer encouragement.
  • Let someone else’s story just be. So often when someone shares a story or tidbit or piece of information, we feel that we have to “one-up” their story. We have our own version that is more dramatic or difficult. Conversation should not be a competition. When the disciples asked Jesus to pick who would sit on his right and left in heaven, he basically shut the conversation right now. He encouraged the disciples to put their energy into other things that debating who should have the most important seats.

Lastly, we can challenge ourselves to rediscover silence. So often, we find ourselves uncomfortable with silence. There are many times silence can do the heavy lifting of a conversation, if he only we would allow it to stand on it’s own two feet.

These days, Hubby Rick and I spend a lot more time in the car together than we ever have. After decades of going our own direction 90% of the time, we are finally going the same direction together. Sometimes, we have lots to chat about. Other times? Not so much.

Here’s what we have discovered. Silence is OK. We do not have to chat all the time. Rarely, do we have the radio on; usually only at some younger people’s suggestion. We can enjoy each other, appreciate the world around us and be content with a little silence. Even in silence, we are still listening.

While on our winter vacation, we ran into Rose and her partner every day. Multiple times a day. And she always had something to say! She might have become Hubby Rick’s BFF after another hour. She meant well. She loved to chat and just wanted someone to listen.

Whether you are more of a talker or more of a listener, we can all embody Jesus’ instructions to “Listen.” No less than three times in just a few verses, Jesus says “Listen” in the fourth chapter of Mark. Obviously, he has something important to say. Clearly, he wants us to take note.


Less talking.

More connection.

Embodying WAIT.

Let’s do this.

For the encouragement to LISTEN more than TALK, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Dear God – Oh, do we love to talk! Share our opinions. Hear ourselves speak. But maybe, there IS a reason we have two ears. Challenge us to spend more of our time listening. Creating connection with others. Choosing to be a person who others love to chat with. Amen.

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