Have you noticed that nobody cares what you think?
Politicians, medical personnel, school officials, people of different viewpoints, your kids, and maybe even your spouse all seem to be on their own agenda and it doesn’t include you.
We listen to our own. We listen to those people who share our viewpoint. We reject those who don’t. (How many friends did you unfriend recently?) We think we can ask other free men and women to act according to our values. We are selfish beyond imagination. If you can’t come off your agenda long enough to share a cup of coffee with someone in polite conversation you have no grounds to share your views. Keep your mouth shut. Look for an opportunity to listen first.
Do less and people will listen more.
Listening first creates the foundation of respect. When we are in “telling” mode we undermine respect and people feel offended. All this “talk” about being offended really comes down to being disrespected first. It isn’t that offensive that someone uses their free speech to say something. It is offensive that they presume to know what is best for me and proceed to tell me without ever having listened to me. The “tellings” must stop.
I have made a quick list of “tellings” that are insane. It’s insane to expect that someone who has spent a lifetime building their personal values and collecting evidence for those values, would, after you “tell them”, change their position and comply with you. If their values change so easily they are dangerous and cannot be trusted.
10 “Tellings” to avoid
1. Telling a fat person to exercise or eat better
2. Telling someone how to spend their money
3. Telling business person how to run their business
4. Telling an irrresponsible person to be responsible
5. Telling a pro-lifer to accept murder
6. Telling parents how to do their job
7. Telling people they are racist, bigots, intolerant, or sinners
8. Telling criminals to follow the law
9. Telling someone they are hypocritical
10. Telling people to act contrary to their beliefs
This is especially true if you are a Christian who thinks sharing your strange opinions with a person of a very different belief system is somehow going to win them to your viewpoint.
Sharing versus Telling
I know a man who picks up hitchhikers to share the gospel. They talk about where they are going and why. They discuss hopes, dreams, motivations, and detours they have had to make. Occasionally there is time to share a meal. About 60% of the time this man feels enough connection to share his story of finding Jesus on the roadway of life.
Not once has he been called bigot, intolerant, racist, or homophobe.
Contrast this genuine experience with another man I know. This man walks along the road and simply hands other pedestrians a “track” and says repent for the end is near. Sometimes he holds a sign as cars pass by. He shares a “track” not an experience.
Sharing with someone creates an experience of understanding, respect, and learning about motivations and maybe you become aware of their brokenness.
The gospel spreads through brokeness. No one I know realized brokeness through opinionated judgements or logical arguments. It was pain.
When someone shares painful stuff with you it is a privilege. Show them respect as a person trying to figure it out. Don’t act like you have it figured out either. You have doubts, questions, things you don’t know. Be humble.
There is a bible story known as the woman at the well (John 4:4-26). It might be more widely read if we called it “Jesus meets with a whore”. In this story we read how the woman was trying to find happiness and it wasn’t working out as she hoped.
She was parched and dry. Jesus offers her what she really thirsts for and the experience is so exciting she opens up to her community about the whole ordeal. The disciples are irrelevant.
The church and many Christians are reaping a whirlwind of their own doing. Your voice is irrelevant because you haven’t connected with the people you are talking to. Church is not an amusement park attraction to draw large crowds who want to buy souvenirs. It is a place where those people who are called by God gather in His name. Focus on connecting.
Leadershop Training and Resources
Leadershop Ministries wants to help those congregations struggling with irrelevance to become relevant. We provide training that helps you overcome your own hang ups, demonstrate respect for others, and engage the world. We recognize the difficulties in this. We believe that well equiped leaders will take the gospel everywhere.
If you are hurting we want to help you too. This world is changing so rapidly it can really disrupt your life. Knoxville Christian Counseling provides drug and alcohol assessments and counseling for people struggling with the pains of a hard life. We can be reached through our website LeadershopMinistries.com or by phone at 865-384-4864