Before You Speak, Listen. Before You Act, Think.
Jabber, Jabber, Jabber
Have you ever found yourself just jabbering on without truly thinking about what you’re saying or how to stop? Suddenly the other person is giving that look often captured in cartoon thought-bubbles: “What are they going on about?” Or even worse, “When are they going to be quiet?” Then in an effort to escape, you speed up, become less specific, just throwing stuff into the conversation, hoping to make it sound better or more embellished. Both people walk away from the interaction wondering, “What just happened?” And, “How can I avoid that next time?”
Too Much Talk Can Get You Into Trouble
Do you know incessantly talking, without listening, can and get you into trouble? There’s a story of two birds that were preparing to fly south when a small snake asked if he could go with them. The birds questioned how it could be done. “Easily,’’ said the snake. “You guys hold a stick between your beaks and I’ll hang on with my mouth.” As the birds flew people looked up, marveling at the trio’s teamwork. Just as the three of them were making great progress, somebody from below shouted, “Great idea! Whose was it?” That’s when the snake, eager to take credit for the idea, opened his mouth and shouted, “It was miiiiiiiine!”
We Don’t Learn From Talking We Learn From Listening
Just remember every time you open your mouth and speak, there are consequences. If the snake hadn’t been so quick to want the credit, he wouldn’t have fallen to his death. Although this is just an allegory about talking too much, it is vital to begin to learn to listen first. Plutarch, a Greek biographer from 46-120 AD, said it this way: “The talkative listen to no one, for they are ever speaking.” He added, “[Only] what we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” Being able to listen when a situation calls for it can reflect the quality of your character and the level of your maturity. If you always need to interject or set someone straight, you may actually be dealing with an identity or maturity problem.
Jesus Listened, He Spoke & People Followed
When we look at Jesus, we find He was a great listener. As a result, people were attracted to Him like a magnet. I am sure there were loads of times He was tired and didn’t feel like listening to those following Him; but He listened anyway. When the disciples complained among themselves and the Pharisees grumbled and caused trouble, Jesus was able to listen to His Father’s heart and focus in on the important things in any situation. He listened, He spoke, and then the people followed. Jesus said it this way very clearly:
For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.
If this is what He demonstrated, then shouldn’t we learn to do the same?
Prophetic Speaking Comes First From Listening
Listening first is often far more effective than speaking immediately. In fact, there’s a point in every conversation where you need to say less, listen more, and then only speak after you’ve heard. In those moments, you not only hear what others are saying but also what God is saying to you. Then having heard, you can share His thoughts when you do speak. These principles have a direct correlation to sharing prophetic words with others.
Listen to God’s Heart & Then Speak What You Hear
When you speak a prophetic word—or any word of teaching, guidance, encouragement or reassurance—make sure you are always listening to the Father’s heart. With the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and knowledge, when you do declare His words over someone, you’ll start in the Spirit and end in the Spirit. Don’t add something in because it sounds good or makes you feel all warm and fuzzy!
Feedback, Feedback, Feedback
If you hear just one word, then it’s one word. If you perceive the Spirit saying a sentence, then it’s a sentence. If as you begin speaking the Spirit begins to elaborate on what you first heard, then it’s a longer style of prophetic word. When this happens, it’s good to get the listener to record it if they can. When they record it, you can suggest that they can go away and weigh it and give you feedback at a later stage. If they can give you feedback right away, then this is great.
Spirit to Spirit Knowing
Although asking for feedback may feel like a risk on your part, it really isn’t. Asking the person receiving the prophecy if the word resonated with their spirit helps you learn to listen more acutely to His voice and be more accurate with the words you give. This practice is can be called spirit-to-spirit knowing:
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.