There’s a story in the Bible that I’ve often reflected on in the Word, because it teaches such an important life and leadership lesson. And that’s the story of Absalom. He was the son of the King, and his father loved him greatly. There was nothing David wouldn’t do for his son…to a fault, at times. But David, like any man, was imperfect…he made mistakes, he made people mad, he didn’t always make the right decisions. So there were people in his kingdom who had complaints against him and wanted to voice those complaints. But what did Absalom do? Rather than help direct those people into the palace where they could speak those complaints directly to the King, he made himself available to hear them out. Nice guy, right? And he was helping to save the king from having to hear all those complaints, right? Wrong.
II Samuel 15:2-4 CEV ~ He would get up early each morning and wait by the side of the road that led to the city gate. Anyone who had a complaint to bring to King David would have to go that way, and Absalom would ask each of them, “Where are you from?” If they said, “I’m from a tribe in the north,” Absalom would say, “You deserve to win your case. It’s too bad the king doesn’t have anyone to hear complaints like yours. I wish someone would make me the judge around here! I would be fair to everyone.”
Listening to another person’s complaints about another person only accomplishes three things, and none of them are good. First, it hinders the issue from ever being resolved, because now you’ve let that person “vent” to you, rather than to the person who they need to speak to. Secondly, it affects how YOU feel about that person who the complaint is directed towards, because all you know about the situation is what that person says about it, from their perspective. You can’t possibly know what happened before, during, or after the situation by listening to one person’s perception. Thirdly, because you’ve been a sympathetic listener (and possibly told them how unfair they were treated…and how YOU would have handled the situation…or how you think that other person should have handled it), you’ve unwittingly drawn those people to yourself by listening to their complaints. And you’ve become the “good guy”…the one who will listen to their complaints…so they no longer feel the need to bring their complaint to the person they should have been talking to in the first place. So what SHOULD we do when someone has a complaint against someone else, and they say they need to talk to someone about it?
Do we politely brush them off and tell them we can’t talk to them? No! The point isn’t to deprive people of someone to talk to. The point IS to help point the conversation in the right direction. So it’s not just a venting session…or a commiserating session…or a gossip session…which it can easily become. Instead, when that kind of conversation presents itself to me, what I pray is that God will help me to bring encouragement to that person, and some godly perspective…whether it be that they need to go to that other person to work things out, or to help them see that they just need to move past it, or possibly even to be daring enough to help them see that their current perspective or perception is skewed. Now, you might think, “But HOW would I know what to say? And what if I say the wrong thing?” That’s where you need to learn to apply today’s scripture to your life each and every day. I do, and I’m amazed continually by the things God helps direct me to say to people who need to talk to someone. I’m thankful that I don’t have to rely on my own wisdom or know-how…and I don’t have to have experienced what they’re experiencing. All I need to know is that if I’m faithful to open up my ears to the Lord each morning, asking Him to help me say what HE wants me to say that day to encourage someone…well, let me just say, He has never failed once to give me the right kinds of words to help that person in that situation. I’m awake and ready to “take orders.” Want to join me?
Isaiah 50:4 MSG ~ The Master, God, has given me a well-taught tongue, So I know how to encourage tired people. He wakes me up in the morning, Wakes me up, opens my ears to listen as one ready to take orders.
More devotions from: Renee’s Fresh Manna
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2008 Tim Burt, All rights reserved.