Thursday, May 04, 2006

Men Don't Listen - Part I

Jokes abound concerning husbands that ignore their wives, boyfriends that won't listen to their girlfriends, and males that can stare you in the face while you talk - never hearing one thing you said! Humour like this works since it touches on a very real problem... albeit a stereotyped one: men are not good listeners.

There is a tendency amongst us guys to not listen, especially when we are talking with other men. The event unfolds something like this:

1) One man opens up about a specific sin he is struggling with, or a question that has him perplexed.

2) While that first man is still talking, the second man is formulating his solution to the issue... and, perhaps he will allow the first speaker to finish before spouting it off.

3) The second man tells the first man what he should do.

4) The first man is given what most often amounts to a pat answer (albeit something very tangible and practical) and is expected to get that fixed in the near future...

5) Rich, Christ-saturated, Spirit-led, God-honoring fellowship has been enjoyed by all! (That was saracasm!)

What I am describing is a common male problem based on my observation. It is a combination of failing to listen and the tendency to want to fix everything at the moment.

If married, perhaps you have granted your wife enough time to lovingly observe this in your relationship with her... maybe not. But, what men learn with their wives they do not always transfer into other relationships. The same incentives found in our marriage are not present nor persuasive in our male-to-male friendships! So, we need to think carefully and act purposefully if we are going to grow in this area.

A wise man learns to listen. Now, before I attempt to prove that, let me lay some basic groundwork.

1. The Foundation: It is good for men to speak to one another – confessing sin, seeking counsel, asking for advice, etc...

We need to confess sin to God... but to men as well:
Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

God has granted some men much wisdom which is to our benefit if we tap into it:
Proverbs 14:33 “Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding,
but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools”
Proverbs 24:6b “and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

Wise friends will have words that hurt sometimes, but are for our good:
Proverbs 20:30 “Blows that wound cleanse away evil;
strokes make clean the innermost parts.”

Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”

So, you can see... men need to be in relationships with other men. And one thing that will help make those relationships profitable is learning how to listen to each other.

Watch for Part Two "Men That Are Wise Are Slow to Speak"


  1. Paul,
    That post was cause for a lot of self-reflection, especially as a man to whom men come to talk! You are dead on - I shouldn't just apply all of that 'communication stuff' to my marriage - it applies all around.

    While I think of it, can I humbly request a past-promised post about pastoral visitation, espeically with elders? I need wisdom here!


  2. What did you just say?

    I absolutely agree, Paul. Appreciate the exhortation. From the teaser, I'm looking forward to part 2.