I’ve never been a good golfer. I like playing, but I’m terrible. It’s a weird bit of golf etiquette to talk about how bad you are- but believe me, this is no false humility (if you need corroboration, then ask Pastors Jeff, Darcy, Vic, or any of the other Pastors at Northview who have had the misfortune of playing a round with me). And yet, I love the game and want to get better.
The last few times I have been to the driving range, I have tried something different. I’ve tried slowing down my swing.
And sure enough, when I do this, my shots are straighter and longer (still nowhere near as long as I’d like, nor as consistent as I’d like, but still! Progress!).
It’s funny, because I have played with lots of people who told me to “slow it down!” (among the many other tips). That seemed counter-productive to me. Surely if I wanted to hit the ball further I needed to swing the club as fast as I could, right? That sounds like simple physics… or something.
And yet, the slower and more deliberate my swing, the better the shot. Huh. Who would’ve thought?
My recent golfing exploits have prompted some contemplation on the value of slowing down. While it’s not a universal truth that “slower always equals better”, it definitely true that in many circumstances slower is better.
That fall-of-the-bone beef brisket wasn’t thrown in the microwave for 2 minutes, it was smoked for hours. The towering green trees in the park by your house didn’t shoot up overnight, but have grown for decades. Many of your nearest and dearest friends are those with whom you have a long history with, you may not even be able to recall many specific conversations or interactions you have had, but the depth and breadth of your friendship just happened slowly over time. Many of the best things in life happen slowly.
There is something more satisfying about thoughtfully working through an entire book than merely reading an article. There is something beneficial about thinking deliberately about what we believe to be true, rather than just continuing to function with our embedded beliefs and presumptions. There are great riches and truths to be found in the Scriptures if we were willing to take the time to dive-in and study it, rather than just skim the surface of it.
Maybe in future blogs I will address one or more of those ideas. But for now, let’s consider one area of life where taking the slow road is best: Taking time to listen rather than rushing to speak. Here are two passages which state this:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…
To answer before listening— that is folly and shame.
It is the human experience to want to push our ideas to front and centre.
Many of our interactions with friends and family go so poorly because instead of doing the good and slow work of listening carefully to what they are saying, we jump in quickly with our very important (and always true!) perspective and opinions. I’m guilty of this in my marriage. Whenever I am in a disagreement with my wife, I’m quick to say “Yes, but what I’m trying to say is…” and then I repeat my very true perspective and opinions (usually just saying the same thing over and over, maybe louder or slower – neither of which help). Rather than listening to the wise advice that slowing down will be most helpful, I have a tendency to think that if I just swing faster, things will go better for me.
Instead of jumping to assert our own thoughts and opinions about everything and anything, as though we have all the answers, maybe the wise thing to do would be to be slow to speak and take the time to listen. While there may be many areas of life where improvement can be found in going slowly, it is definitely true that a chief area is in our conversations with others. We need to slow down our impulse to speak, and take the time to deliberately and intentionally listen.