“Speech is silver. Silence is golden.”
With reports of its use dating back to ancient Egypt, the first modern documented expression of this sentiment was in Germany in 1831. This idea of holding your tongue, of choosing to stay silent and perhaps listen attentively instead, is not a new idea. Why, then, it is still a largely unpracticed one?
Sometimes, we should choose not to speak because we are ignorant or because we don’t want to offend someone. This self-restraint is positive, though often unsustainable. Sometimes, we choose not to talk because we want to hear what another person has to say. It’s this second idea, choosing not to speak and instead to listen to another person, that might be one of the most profound ways to cultivate and improve relationships as well as to stimulate your own growth in holistic ways.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak..” (James 1:19)
To choose not to speak and to instead give someone the gift of your attention is precious. Few things mean more than being valued enough to be heard. This intention toward attention develops consistent character and divine focus. Yet, listening consistently well requires being BRAVE in your relationships and investing your time in them. A FOCUSED mind that listens well stays clear and agile. Listening well also involves being CONFIDENT in God’s leading and learning to be RELAXED because you know he’s meeting your every need.
Being BRAVE enough to listen well to others involves allowing for vulnerability through humble silence. Eye contact, head nods, and the occasional clarifying question meet the therapeutic needs of another to promote healing and wholeness in them. Listening intently to another cultivates a strong relationship because it communicates value that no words can adequately express.
A FOCUSED mind can listen more deeply to others, to self, and to God. Resisting breadth and striving for depth cultivates a focused mind known for consistency and wisdom. Developing focus results in a disciplined mind willing and able to refrain from speaking until asked to do so.
Listening deeply and consistently to and for the wisdom of God develops a CONFIDENT spirit unable to exist otherwise. The overflowing impact results in an unstoppable and powerful force that accomplishes the impossible because its focus lies above where the Holy One dwells instead of being distracted by earthly wisdom.
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2)
Tension and stress consume an unquiet mind unable to listen to others, to the self, or to God. A RELAXED existence comes with the knowledge that needs are met by the one who knows every need. When this becomes an approach to living, the physical impact feels miraculous. Truly listening leads to relaxation because you can see God working in every area of your life and in the lives of others.
The golden value of silence becomes apparent through its impact on your relationships, your ability to learn, your connection to God, and your physical health. In addition to these invaluable benefits, developing a habit of listening far more than you talk makes the words that you do say increase in worth.
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2)
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” (Proverbs 19:20)
“Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.” (Proverbs 25:12)