Do I Give Foolish Answers?

I noticed an interim or two ago, I usually wait about a year before I begin giving specific suggestions to elders and others in the congregation about how they might improve. Then I try to make suggestions and not commands.

That isn’t my natural inclination. I like to study, observe, and think. I come up with good ideas. I’ve seen many things that work and don’t work. It’s amazing how similar people and congregations are. I have wisdom that could benefit.
Two verses in  Proverbs 17 are helpful:
He who answers a matter before he hears it,
It is folly and shame to him (Proverbs 18:13, NKJV).
The first one to plead his cause seems right,
Until his neighbor comes and examines him (Proverbs 18:17).


  • Have I listened and thought through this issue to be ready to comment?
  • If there is conflict, have I heard the issue from one person or more than one person? Or — have I heard both sides from the same person?…which isn’t hearing both sides.
  • Some things I think are wise at first, aren’t as wise six months later.
  • Speaking too quickly can be hurtful if I haven’t established respect and care for those who hear my observations. I need to give evidence I’m speaking from concern and not cockiness.
  • When I distribute pearls of wisdom, questions and wondering may be better received than oracles from above.
  • Fewer people get offended by my confusion than by my clear confrontation. “I’m confused when this happens. Can you help me understand?,” may be better than “That’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen.”

If you see a Bridge Out One Mile Ahead sign and the driver didn’t seem to notice, don’t wait a year to start a conversation.

Many things aren’t that urgent, and waiting to comment can be a blessing to the speaker and the hearer.

What good listening habits have you developed?

(Visited 75 times, 7 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

8 Responses to “Do I Give Foolish Answers?

  • W Hamblen
    5 years ago

    Jerrie, my experience is similar. I tend to analyze quickly, reading “signs” & trends that my sociology minor trained me to sense. My “pronouncements” are most often accurate, but occasionally, totally presumed. I discovered that and admit it with pain, but came to admit. Now I am “slow to speak”, waiting to learn more, that listening will tell me.
    When I last was pushed to give a quick solution, my response was “I can’t give a cause of death at this point. I have not yet seen the body.”

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      5 years ago


      Thank you for sharing your experience and your parable.

  • James Pasley
    5 years ago

    Swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger seems to be an excellent set of habits to develop.

    • James,

      Good advice. I think James may have read Proverbs. Or they had a common source of information. Or both.

  • Steve Housley
    5 years ago

    Excellent observations/practices. Thanks.

  • Roger Leonard
    5 years ago

    Good thoughts, Jerrie. I tend to tune some people out if I don’t want to hear what they have to say. Depending on the situation and the person, there are times when that is okay. But there are times when that is not okay. If someone needs assistance or just a listening ear, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. While it is impossible to hear what everyone has to say to me, I need to have caring heart and listen when I can. It could be a soul-saving moment for them, or a day when they need to be heard and encouraged. When a person comes to me and wants to talk, that probably is because they believe in me as someone who cares and can help. Listening is a skill that needs to be developed as much as the skill of properly speaking, I have observed this often with my wife and she knows I was not listening. She is worthy of being heard. And sometimes that is all she wants at the moment.

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      5 years ago


      Good observatons and applications.