Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quick on the Draw

In the old John Wayne flick "The Sons of Katie Elder" , there's a scene in which an overeager deputy is loading his gun to go bring in Tom Elder (played by Dean Martin) whom he hates. The wise, peacekeeping sheriff warns the deputy to do it reluctantly.

I am a lot like that deputy. Not only am I quick to load my gun...all too often, I keep one in the chamber ready to fire...when it comes to angry words that is. "Impulsive listening" and "impulsive patience" are phrases that seem so oxymoronic to my existence that they make me laugh briefly before the shameful realization sets in that these tools are seldom found in my saddle bags. I'm quick to shoot first and ask questions later when I'm angry--especially when I don't fear reprisal (like with my kids or my wife).

The thing is that when you shoot first and listen later, there's just so much blood! Angry words are like bullets--they're painful, destructive and deadly. On the other hand, no one ever died because of a drive-by listener. No police report has ever been filed because of a random act of patience. No family ever split up after complaints such as "All you ever do is listen to me!" or "You're so stinkin' patient with me! I just can't take it any more!" That's because listening and patience are always constructive and productive, while my anger is nearly always destructive and counterproductive. God already knew that of course...just read James 1:19-20. I want to be "quick on the draw" but not with angry words...with a listening ear and patience instead.

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