Life Group Discussion Guide for Job 2:11-13
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger:” – James 1:19
Job’s three friends arrive on the scene of his suffering in Job 2:11. We have every indication that they are true friends with pure motives. They have taken months out of their lives to travel to Job and minister to him in his affliction.
We will spend two weeks examining the ministry of Job’s friends. This discussion will focus on the things that Job’s friends initially do right.Read Job 2:11-13
From those verses, find the things that you think Job appreciated about his friends.
The ministry of Job’s friends falls into three categories.
Presence is a ministry we all understand after going through difficult times. We don’t necessarily need someone to do anything for us. We simply want to know that we have people who are physically present to support us through the experience.
Sympathy consists of the gestures people make to let each other know they are actively engaged with the problem that you are facing. This is closely linked to presence, but it is not exactly the same. Sometimes we can find comfort in the presence of people who have no idea that we are suffering. Likewise, there are ways to express sympathy even when it is not possible to be physically present.
Silence is a theme that will be repeated throughout our study of the book of Job. There are 32 occurrences of the word “silence” in the ESV Bible, and seven of those occur in the book of Job. Another seven occur between the books of Psalms and Ecclesiastes, which are closely connected to the wisdom of Job.
The custom in the ancient world was that people would mourn as a group for a period of one week. Mourning consisted of tearing robes, wearing sackcloth, sprinkling dust and ashes, weeping, wailing, and sitting in silence. The custom of silence would extend until the person closest to the tragedy decided to speak. This is how the people of Job’s culture would practice the ministry of listening.
Silence is a necessary condition to listening. The culture and technology of twenty-first century Americans typically makes us horrible listeners. Here are a few reasons why:
- Our lives are totally consumed with noise. There are almost no places of silence where we go on a daily basis. When our ears always have something to hear, words tend to lose their value.
- We’re focused on ourselves. Social media, reality TV, consumerism, and the self-help culture have conspired with the natural self-centeredness of our flesh to turn a great number of people into card-carrying narcissists. It is truly disturbing how many people think that the world revolves around themselves. Nobody has anything more important to say than they do.
- We don’t remember how to pay attention. Social and neurological studies continue to demonstrate that today’s attention spans are becoming shorter than ever.
All of this means that most people, even well-meaning people, have lost touch with their ability to listen to others. This is why we can be totally surrounded by others, but feel completely alone.
Presence alone has no value unless it is combined with sympathy and listening. If you can develop one skill as a small group, learn to listen. It might the single most important thing you can do for one another.
- Talk about a time when somebody’s physical presence meant a great deal to you.
- Has technology found a way to replace physical presence?
- What are some of the best ways people can express sympathy/empathy?
- What are some words or phrases that comfort? What are some well-intentioned words or phrases that tend to cause more pain?
- What is the value of silence?
- Why does our culture have such a difficult time with silence?
- Who is someone you consider to be a good listener?
- How do you know that they are really listening to you and not just hearing?
- Do you consider yourself to be a good listener?
- What can you do to improve your own ability to listen to your friends?