There is something about me that loves to think, and analyze, and even argue. I love to answer questions and point things out to people that they may be missing. I think this is good in what God has called me to do, proclaim the truth of Scripture and help people know Christ. However, sometimes our greatest strengths can be liabilities, or blindspots. I remember my freshmen year in college when a friend of mine told me that I don't listen. Of course, I was initially indignant thinking to myself how often I had thought of listening and its importance to good communication. After a couple of minutes of arrogance however, I respected my friend enough to really examine myself. I found that he was right. After that I started to listen and ask questions of people simply to learn about them and try to understand them fully, even when I disagreed with them.
I've gotten better, but a couple of events in the past week have brought to my attention that I still have not arrived. On two occasions I have come out with my guns blazing - one when nobody even brought a controversial topic up, and one when a friend had simply voiced an important and searching question. After both occassions there was something inside me that didn't seem right. And as I took time to be quiet I realized that what I didn't do was really listen... not just to the words, or logical arguments... but to the heart and the search and the yearning behind the questions and the words of others. Hopefully from these faltering steps of mine God has brought me one step closer to being what He wants me to be - someone who is slow to speak and quick to listen, slow to become angry, and full of edifying words. Someone who tries to learn from each person he talk to or interacts with. There is much I can learn... this does not mean that there is not a need to speak truth and that I will turn off the analytical side of my personality. What I hope it does mean is that as I humbly listen I will gain a better grasp on what the truth is, and of what the Christ-like way to present it is.
For those of you who may get burned by strong opinionated types like myself from time to time, please remember that we are still on the journey too:)