How often do we speak when we should be silent?  I had to ask myself this after an incident with my son this week.

Monday he came home from school with a major headache.  It seems that one of his classmates had dumped over a desk with him in it and he’d hit his head on the floor.  Seriously?  This is highschool?  I couldn’t believe he was still getting in these situations and I let my thoughts on the subject be known. “Be more like Michael*.  No one ever picks on him, do they?”  (*name changed so as not to embarrass the innocent)

The next morning when he was leaving for school, my son hit me with a parting shot.  “Sorry, I’m not macho enough.”

Whoa.  That wasn’t what I’d meant.  Or at least it wasn’t all that I had meant to communicate.  But he was upset and embarrrased and I hadn’t listened.  Not really.  Cause I’m sick of it.

After school, we had another talk.  This time he could tell I was listening, because I was.  Because of it, he really listened to me.

And that is why this image of the Dalai Lama really spoke to me when I saw it later in the week.  As Christians, we are called on to work with and for people who need help.  How much more effective would we be if, instead of coming in with opinions fully formed, we listened?  I have to wonder.