Seek First To Understand

There is a famous line in St. Francis of Assisi's prayer that goes, 

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about understanding, what it really means and why it is so important to do so to others.  So why do we as humans need to understand one another?

I know that many philosophers, psychologists, and theologians have written extensively about this.  I am not trying to reinvent the wheel here. I am merely reflecting on the importance of understanding.

So-why this need to be understood? I think that the reason is that we all crave to be valued. When someone shows that they understand you, they are in essence telling you that you are important and they want to enter into your world.  If I am to be successful in my marriage, in my relationships, and as a Christian I need to seek to understand others before myself.

Sometimes there is reluctance to seeking to understand others. Probably because if we really attempt to understand others, there is no way that we won't be affected.  Possibly having to modify ones deeply ingrained beliefs is never an easy thing to do, but it might be necessary thing to do in order to grow.  In some ways it is a dying to oneself, and a breeding ground for humility.

So my challenge to everyone is:  Seek first to understand.


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