What Does This Mean?

“The wise man listens to meaning; the fool only gets the noise.” — Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness

What people say is seldom the main issue.

The important issue is, what did them mean?

Afterall, we’ve had many conversations over the years where we didn’t understand what someone said, but we had no trouble understanding what they meant! 

Remember when your children were babies!  Remember that man you cut off in traffic the other day! Yikes!

I’ll never forget a conversation I had on the last Sunday of a particular year.  I had brought in a guest speaker and after the service one of my parishioners came up to me and said, “Now that’s the kind of preaching we need around here all the time!”

Though you can’t always tell by the way I speak, I am pretty good at understanding English.  So the issue was not understanding what the man had just said – I easily understood the thirteen-word sentence he articulated. The real issue was understanding what he meant!  What he was really saying is “I like that other preacher’s preaching and I wish you would change and preach like him.”

Talk about a demotivating way to end a year!

However, I knew the man who made that statement.  I counted him as a friend.  He was not a mean-spirited person, a disgruntled, out-to-hurt-me church member…no, he was a good church member who, in his enthusiasm over a sermon that he enjoyed, slipped up and told me how he really felt. 

And because I was able to not only understand what he said, but also understand what he meant, I refused to take offense and took his statement as an opportunity to examine myself and look for areas to improve.

Everyday you and I are getting messages – some are obvious, but most are not.  Most are subtle and can be missed if we don’t take the time to listen for the message.

The ONE THING for today: The stakes are high today. There are many people with a message for you and those you love which goes against everything you believe and value. Understanding the words is not enough; getting the message is what matters.  That is why one of the most important questions you can ask yourself is, “What does this mean?”

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash