I take my son Benjamin to high school five days a week. It’s usually about a twenty to twenty-five minute drive. Most always twenty to twenty-five of my favorite minutes of the day.
We talk. He isn’t much for sports. So that topic usually doesn’t come up. Talking about school usually consists of me asking questions and him giving me short responses. So we usually talk about politics. Makes sense. He is a bright kid on the debate team. I studied economics and politics in college.
We often disagree. He brings creativity and idealism into our talks. We have covered it all: health care, immigration, taxes, and foreign policy. I pull in the drop-off lane, go over the logistics of when he is getting out of debate, and tell him I love him.
True intimacy is only built around the freedom to disagree. #DrHenryCloud
Hopefully Benjamin is learning a critical life skill: disagreeing with somebody while simultaneously loving them.
He and I don’t agree fully on what should be done about health care, but we have made dozens of hospital visits together. We don’t agree on the specifics about immigration, but we have picked up refugees at the airport and welcomed them to their new home. Jesus says: When I was sick you visited me and when I was stranger you welcomed me. (Matthew 25:35-36) Uniformity in purpose is greater than uniformity of thought.
In twenty years of ministry, I have seen relationships ruined because individual parties in the relationships were more concerned with winning and losing than they were with understanding and affirming. Even if there is a winner and a loser in the argument, the relationship still loses.
Christian doctrine is to love the whole human race, even the enemy, to make no exceptions, neither of preference nor aversion. #Kierkegaard
I observe so much unfortunate discourse today. Much of it is political among strangers. Much of it happens elsewhere among loved ones. And all of the unfortunate conversation can be avoided. All of it. Here is how.
- Value the other person more than your need to be the winner.
- Listen before speaking. Ask questions. Seek understanding.
- Reflect before you speak. Is what you are speaking helpful and accurate? Is what you are speaking full of grace? If the answer is “no” to either question, then repeat #3 until both answers are “yes”.
- Frustration and anger happen. When they happen, choose kindness over being unpleasant. You’ll be grateful now and more grateful later. So will everybody else.
This week you will have people who disagree with you. Unless you lock yourself in your basement and turn off your phone—that is a fact. You get to choose how you respond. Your response will make all the difference.