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Listening to Them

I’ll never forget one man’s criticism of me that helped me as much as anything I’ve ever heard.

I was about to graduate from seminary. I had completed the finest courses in theology, Greek, Hebrew, and homiletics—you know, I was fully prepared for life and ministry. (Yeah, right!) But I still had something essential to learn.

I’ll never forget this man’s words. He looked me in the eye and said, “You know, Chuck, you’ve got a great sense of humor . . . but it’s often at someone else’s expense.”

That stung, but it was true.

When you have a sense of humor, and you can add a little barb with a touch of cynicism or sarcasm, you can usually get a better laugh. But usually there’s one who’s not laughing down inside. That person receives the brunt of the joke. In years past, that person was my wife, Cynthia. My critic who had witnessed this in me cared enough to say something. In some ways, he saved my marriage.

For ten years Cynthia and I went through difficult, difficult times. She didn’t feel I valued her. It weakened my relationship with my wife, mainly because I wasn’t teachable. I didn’t realize what a treasure I had in this woman who was not only my wife but also my wisest counselor and my best friend.

In the years that have followed, I cannot tell you the times that I have been grateful for those times I listened to my wife. And I cannot tell you the times I have regretted when I didn’t.

Who else is more in my corner than the woman I’ve married? Who more than her wants to see me succeed? Who else has put up with sixty years of me? Nobody.

So why do I sometimes think she’s not in my corner? The adversary occasionally tries to convince me of that. And he does the same to you, I’m sure.

Don’t go there, guys.

Some of the brightest people on the planet are the people we’ve married. They know us better than anybody. We need to value them . . . which means, listening to them.

–Chuck