by Carter Brinkley, Student Minister
If you found this page while perusing the internet, especially via social media, then you have likely already seen something that made you angry or annoyed at someone else. Most likely, the source of your frustration is a family member or friend who just doesn’t see things the way you do. If you are like me, you may be rehearsing an air-tight argument in your mind that you would just love to present to any and every person you know— or don’t know— who needs a "reality check." After all, if you could win everyone to your point of view, there would be nothing left to be angry over, right?
Here are a couple of thoughts for Christ followers on having healthy and productive engagements with others about difficult subjects:
How do you prepare to have contentious discussions with others? Do you over mull the facts of the matter in your mind, making sure to cross your theological "t’s" and dot your political "i’s" so your perspective on important matters will always be irrefutable? Let me offer another method for being truly prepared to engage people in the world around you whose views are so different from your own: focus instead on being winsome in your interactions, and value your treatment of people more than your intellectual dominance over them.
Your true influence over someone is directly proportional with their respect for you. If friends, loved ones, and strangers do not feel heard and valued by you, they will not value your opinion in return even if your arguments are sound. As Christians, our theology of valuing others ought to be just as important to us as our theology and politics regarding the hot topics of the day.
Will you be remembered for the conflicts you won or the ones you avoided?
Not A Winner
I recently read a great relationship book by Matt Chandler entitled Mingling of Souls. In his book, Matt gives married couples a set of rules for having healthy arguments. I love rule #7: Never try to win. This is an excellent rule for arguing or debating with anyone because it shifts the focus from our concerns to something much more important.
What is the point of arguing with another person if you are not trying to win? The point is the other person. When we stop trying to be the victor in every debate, we are free to focus on engaging the person across from us in a loving and winsome way.
Being quite opinionated myself, I have made more than a few mistakes when having important conversations about beliefs and perspectives with my friends and family. As a result, I have produced more hurt and frustration rather than wisdom and understanding. In my efforts to win people to my side, I have lost relationships and alienated loved ones. I don’t think many of us would consider that result a win.
Remember that Christ is not glorified when you win a debate; he is glorified when you are humble! We know this because in Philippians 2:5-11, God instructs us to share the mind that Christ had as he humbled himself even to the point of death. He wasn’t concerned with victory over conflict, but over sin. He came not to win arguments but to win the souls of his people. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed upon him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Let us put on the mind of Christ so we can take up the task of glorifying him. Rather than “speaking our piece,” let us speak the peace of Christ! After all, the world needs our Jesus more than our opinion.