The wise old owl lived in an oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard:
Why can’t we all be like that bird?
~Edward H. Richards
Yeah, why can’t we be like that bird? Why is it that we, the human species, seem to excel at running our mouths? It’s a curious thing that our Creator gave us two ears and only one mouth, yet we seem to speak twice as much as we listen. Truly, we would be much better off if we learned to be like that old bird!
I know I would. I make my living by speaking, but I’ve found that the more I listen and the less I speak, the more effective I am. And when I run into difficulties in life, what I’ve found is that it’s not what I haven’t said that’s gotten me into trouble, it’s what I’ve said. Why can’t I be like that bird?
Read: Proverbs 10:19
When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
There’s an African proverb that says, “Much silence makes a powerful noise.” That’s really true, isn’t it? So here’s an idea: Why don’t you and I go on a word fast. I’m not talking, no pun intended, about going stark raving silent. I’m just suggesting less words and more listening—to others, to your own heart, and especially to God.
Alice Gray tells a great story about a Native American who was walking in New York City with a friend. Suddenly he said, “I hear a cricket.” His friend just kind of looked at him and said, “You’re crazy.”
“No, I’m sure I hear a cricket,” the Native American said. The friend replied, “Man, it’s noon… people everywhere, cars honking, taxis squealing…There’s no way you can hear a cricket in all this noise!”
The guy leaned toward the sound and said, “But I do.” So he walked to the corner across the street, and looked. Finally he found a shrub in a cement planter. He dug into the planter and found the cricket. His friend was astounded, so this guy said, “My ears are no different from yours. It just depends on what you are listening to. I’ll show you.”
So he reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of change—a few quarters and dimes. And he dropped the change on the concrete. Every head within a block turned. And he said, “You see what I mean? It all depends on what you’re focused on.”
Quiet down! Zip it! Zip it good—and watch what happens. Learn to make that your practice and you’ll be at home among the wise!
“Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.”
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
Today, intentionally listen twice as much as you speak, and see what happens—both in you, as well as the people you are around. Just try it! All of you may like it!