James makes a connection in James 1:19 that I have not only missed in the text but failed to notice in my own life. Here is what James wrote,
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.“
It makes sense that James would connect listening and speaking. But he also connects listening with becoming angry. Why does James link listening and anger. Those who are quick to listen are people who have humility. Those who struggle to listen are also likely to struggle with being angry.
I think entitlement also has something to do with it. If I expect you to listen to me but me not listen to you that is entitlement. It also lacks humility. Good listeners aren’t entitled people but often, at least for myself, I realize that anger comes out of entitlement. I am angry because I didn’t get my needs met or what I expected to happen didn’t – entitlement. Those who believe everyone should listen to them and not be good listeners themselves are entitled people. They are not humble people. Good listeners don’t tend to be angry people because they believe other people have a seat at the table and their power doesn’t feel challenged if they listen to someone other than themselves. That is because humble people aren’t interested in who has the power.
I would encourage you to try to become a better listener. You can start with James’ own word – be quick. Always look for an opportunity to listen. Don’t feel the pressure to interject yourself or your opinion. Ask people for clarification and more information. When we begin seeking people to listen to rather than seek people to tell things to, we will start to see real progress. And I bet the byproduct you will begin to find in your life on a positive side is the growth of humility and a smaller and smaller propensity to be angry.