A time to speak and a time to listen

By Richard Ploch | Jul 07, 2014

Jesus said that he would be rejected by the authorities and be killed and three days after his death he would live again. The disciples said to each other, “Do you know what he means? I don’t understand, but Peter will probably say something to him.”

Peter to Jesus, “No, Jesus, you’re not going to suffer and die. Don’t talk like that.” And Jesus blew up at him.

When you are reading the Bible, it sometimes jumps in your hands. Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God's.”

You have probably shared something honestly and the other person, instead of asking you to say more, says, “Don’t feel that way.” That meal didn’t come out the way I wanted. No, it was delicious … Right now I’m not feeling very good about myself.  No, you’re a good person. I didn’t do that job well. No, you were great. And you want to yell, please, just listen to me. Quit telling me I’m fine when I don’t feel fine. This is hard news, Peter, and I need you to listen.

Jesus has said the most life-shattering words anyone can say. You’ve been to the doctor. You come home and say to someone you love, “I’m going to suffer and die.” I hope they do not respond, “Oh, no you’re not. Don’t talk like that.”

My mother was in a nursing home as she neared the last days of her life with us. A minister colleague stuck his head in my office door one day and the only thing he said was, “Richard, you know where your source of strength is.”

I didn’t say anything — but I thought, “Thanks a lot.” I do know where my source of strength is, but I’m hurting and you want to give advice.

If you want to be a Christ-like friend, ask a sincere question and then listen. After the person talks, resist the temptation to begin talking about yourself in return.

Henry David Thoreau, the American author and loner, also liked companionship. “The greatest compliment ever paid to me,” he once said, “was when someone asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”

Jesus said, “I’m going to suffer. I’m going to die,” and no one said, “Tell us more.”

A man was once asked what happens in 12-step programs and why they are successful. He wasn’t sure. He did know, however, that participants come together in a room, get a cup of coffee and when someone speaks, everyone listens.

It is how healing takes place.

Email the Rev. Richard Ploch at ploch@charter.net.