THE FOURTH DAY IN LENT
Saturday, February 20, 2021
Talk Less, Listen More
by Scott Stoner
One who spares words is knowledgeable.
I regularly listen to the soundtrack from Hamilton: An American Musi-cal. There is a line in the second song on the album, “Aaron Burr, sir,” that relates to our focus on listening.
In this song, we hear an anxious Alexander Hamilton meeting Aaron Burr for the first time. He is talking incessantly as he tries to get Burr’s attention. At one point in the song, after Burr has heard more than enough, he turns to Hamilton and says, “Let me offer you some free advice. Talk less, smile more.
”For our purposes, I would like to rephrase it slightly. “Let me offer you some free advice. Talk less, listen more.” Like Hamilton, I know I am especially vulnerable to talking too much when I feel anxious or insecure. As I have grown older, I have learned to become more comfortable with making room for silence in interactions with others, and not anxiously filling natural lulls in the conversation.
In her Ash Wednesday reflection, Lisa Saunders candidly shared how one year she gave up yelling at her children for Lent. Sometimes learning to talk less is not just about the number of words we speak, but also about the choice and tone of the words we use. Lisa expressed this when she wrote that she realized how the way she spoke impacted the way others felt. My prayer is that paying close attention to how we speak and how we listen will be an enriching Lenten discipline for us all.
Making It Personal: Do you tend to talk at times more than you listen? What are you aware of at this point that can help you to “talk less, listen more”? In your prayer life, do you tend to spend more time talking than listening?