Take the time to really listen to other people


In the movie "Julie and Julia," renowned French chef Julia Child and Simone Beck, who wrote "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," are surprised when cookbook author Irma S. Rombauer acknowledges that she has not tested all of the recipes in her own cookbook, "The Joy of Cooking."

Child’s cookbook is so detailed and precise that people using it can, indeed, produce good meals.

The vignette in the movie seems illustrative of the difference between being expedient and paying painstaking attention to detail

Or, to go beyond cookbooks, paying painstaking attention to what someone else is saying and thinking.

We live in a society that wants quick solutions. We vote, and the winners expect the losers to "suck it up."

It takes more time than the way we so often do it to reach a consensus, but, when reached, the results of a consensus can be supported by all.

When people feel truly heard, they are more open to other options.

I wonder if so much of the anger in our culture is directly related to our push for efficiency, and our unwillingness to take the time to really listen to each other.

When people have a viewpoint that is different than our own, it’s tempting to want to cut off conversation with them. But then what?

People who’ve been cut off tend to seethe, and then to retaliate, which creates more conflict. In the end, what could have been settled with kindness, courtesy and taking the time needed to reach a consensus becomes another reason for dissension.

The gospel of John tells us that when Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, He announced, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no guile!" (John 1:47). Jesus admonishes us to be "wise as serpents and innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16).

Wisdom does not come through expediency, refusal to listen and shutting down statements from people who don’t share our way of seeing things.

Paying attention to the concerns of another person, especially when their views are at odds with one’s own, takes courage. It also takes integrity.

Julia Child’s painstaking attention to detail in her cookbook offers us a recipe to follow in our relationships with other people.

When we mix the ingredients of kindness, compassion and rendering others due respect, even when we disagree with them, who can say what nourishing, delicious feasts we will serve?

The Rev. Dorothy Price Knudson is retired from active ministry, but is frequently invited to preach. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at catherinehicks@wwub.com.


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