In this episode:
Do you remember when your world was contained to the people you saw at home and at work each day? Social media has opened an opportunity to have public forum discussions on a daily basis, and the result is sometimes that we say too much.
There is a lot of heavy conversation around us these days. More than any time in my life I see division because we have the ability to discuss current events with hundreds of people every day.
Do you remember when your world was contained to the people you saw at home and at work each day? Social media has opened an opportunity to have public forum discussions on a daily basis. I’ve noted that even among people of similar faith, there can be vast differences in opinions about what is right or wrong.
The strong opinions from social media often seep into our face-to-face conversations. We bring up something we saw on a post or a story we saw on the news. Someone will presume we share their point of view. And with a simple statement, a potential argument pops up.
This is going to be a little bit of a soapbox episode, but it’s important to consider our own actions and what we convey through them.
We might dehumanize our comments on social media posts and just fire off a reply without thinking about there being a real person on the other end of the screen. I don’t think we always consider the feelings of the other person or even how our response could damage our relationship. I believe that too often this is happening in personal conversation too. We say the first thing that comes to mind. We argue and try to prove a point.
We want to be right. I’ve caught myself mistakenly believing that I can somehow change someone’s mind. We send news articles and persuasive pieces. We might mail books, and share links, all in a desperate effort to change someone else’s mind.
But I think we lose something when we do this. We lose our real connection.
The real challenge is to learn that we often don’t have to say anything at all. The quickest way to diffuse a conflict is to let it go. I think we can discover life, repurposed when we look for something other than pushing our opinion, but instead in building true caring relationships.
There are many places where our impulses are tested and these can affect our relationships with others. This is especially true in communication.
- Text messages
- Verbal comments that rile us up
- Social media comments
If we shift our focus away from viewpoints and toward relationships, these are some action steps that could change the outcome:
- Remind myself I don’t need to be right.
- It isn’t likely I can change someone’s mind, so I can ask, “What is my motive here?”
- I can ask, “What does it feel like to be in their shoes?”
- Assume their intelligence. I acknowledge that this person is smart and has weighed out their opinions and made an intelligent decision about their point of view.
- Celebrate the differences instead of attacking them.
I’m writing this during an election year. We are going to have all sorts of opportunities to practice this year. There will be very smart people who don’t agree with us. They probably never will.
I suggest we choose some personal policies so that we can be prepared ahead for how we will react. In order to hold our tongue and learn to pause before we speak, there are some qualities to develop:
- Humility – Assume that I might not know it all. Set aside ego. But it also has to do with our motive. When I’m motivated by ego, I’m tempted to make myself look good at the expense of someone else.
- Gentleness – This means carefully wording my reply. If it is verbal, I choose my words carefully. If it is a written response, I need to slow down before firing off my reply.
- Kindness – This means treating someone how I would want to be treated. That means filtering my words to see if they sound kind.
- Empathy – Truly feel for another person. We don’t always speculate correctly, but even a feeble attempt at seeing from their perspective helps us to settle our own desire to fight.
- Sensitivity – Christians will have opposite viewpoints. Some of them will be politically opposite of me. I don’t want to assume that someone agrees with me.
- Love – When we truly love people, it will change us.
All of these require self-control. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. I’m a work in progress. There have been times when I would have been better off locked up in my room at home until I could come out and “play nice.” I can’t go back! There is no DeLorean to take me back to where I can control my mouth and say nothing. But I keep practicing.
Sometimes, when we say nothing at all, it’s the most beautiful thing ever!
Instead of a book this time, I’m going to share a sermon series with you. I won’t spend long talking about it, but I will link to it in the show notes.
One of the things that often happens, especially during an election year, is we divide people into two political party categories and then stake our life on our own beliefs. There are assumptions about others and hurtful comments.
A sermon series that I recently listened to helped me to think about my own views and whether my own actions and words aligned more with Jesus and his love, or whether I had a warped understanding. A sermon series from Pastor Andy Stanley helped me examine my heart. I’ll link to the podcast version and YouTube.
Talking Points Part 1: What Is Jesus' Take On Politics? // Andy Stanley
Talking Points Part 2: How Christians Should Approach Politics // Andy Stanley
Talking Points Part 3: What Is The Role of the Church in Politics? // Andy Stanley
You’ll also find these same three episodes on the North Point Community Church podcast (look for the series called Talking Points)
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Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.
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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.