Recently I had the opportunity to be the unexpected mediator during a conversation between two hotheads I have known for numerous years. Now, both these individuals are believers; however, the passion with which they speak can lead to trouble and offense. This particular situation has been on my mind since the day it took place. During this heated “discussion,” once these hotheads simmered down, I actually was able to see a few things a little clearer on both sides. I gained a better understanding of one of the persons involved, and some valuable points to remember from both of them.
I thought it would be good to share some of this food for thought with you.
This is not the first time I have been thrust into the job of mediator. I am the oldest child in a large family of irascible yackers lol. I have a resume with 30 + years’ experience diffusing such situations, so I am no stranger to the task. Situations like this, however, often present life lessons the individuals involved too often miss. As believers, such situations ought to help us grow to be more like Christ; however, so often that is not the case because human beings fail to take a long hard look at themselves. Okay, so let’s unpack some of these life lessons (in random order).
Love, Love, Love – get upset all you want to about that, but what would God have to say about your actions, words, and attitude? Where is it coming from? (1 Pet 1:22; 1 Pet 4:8; )
Treat everyone as though they are Christ – this is one of the best habits we can develop. Why? Because we know that if Jesus were standing before us most of what we say, think and do would be reined in! What we often forget is that Jesus IS standing before us. He sees, hears, and knows everything we think, say, and do (Prov 15:3; Heb 4:13; Prov 5:21). Keep that in mind!
Remember having the Spirit of God means YOU HAVE SELF-CONTROL(Gal 5:22-23) – you can’t sit the Holy Ghost on the shelf and do your thing, then return and pick Him back up again. IF you have the Holy Ghost then His fruit governs your behavior, not you!
Learn to listen – OMGoodness!! I think we all can benefit from putting this into practice (James 1:19; Prov 18:13; James 1:22 ). Oftentimes where there is dialogue the ears of the individuals are blocked by personal thoughts. What I mean by that is, they are too busy formulating their next response and are not hearing the other person’s thoughts. In arguments, often everyone is talking at once and fail to realize they are saying THE SAME THING!! Take note: If everybody’s talking then NOBODY is listening. There is no reasoning being done with all mouths are flappin in the wind; understanding will not be obtained.
Hear with your heart, not just your ears. Sometimes if we just listen, we can hear what another is really trying to say.
So often people have selective hearing. We put words in people’s mouth, we “hear” what we want to hear, and we crowd other things into the words of another that don’t even belong or apply. We bring the words and actions of others who have done us wrong to the table and filter everything through those people and circumstances. That is actually not fair, and it causes issues. People get angry at one because of something they said. Those trigger words, that the other person knows nothing about, is like setting fire to a stick of dynamite! For believers this should not and must not be!
Think BEFORE you speak – I think I need to say that again; Think BEFORE you speak! Slow down, take a moment to think; taste your words before you let them fly out of your mouth. Judge the situation for a moment, will your words add gas to an already simmering fire? So often, if we will have patience and take a moment, half or more of what is said would never be spoken. I can’t tell you how many times, even in my own family, I have watched words be thrown like strategically chosen daggers. There have been times where I have felt the pain of the words when they landed in the heart of the other person. For believers, THIS IS NEVER ACCEPTABLE. I don’t care how backed into a corner we may feel or how wounded.
Pride has got to go – We are all human; therefore, pride is always waiting to take the upper hand. So often pride is at the helm in such heated conversations (Prov 16:5; Prov 16:18; James 4:6). People get too occupied with being heard, with getting the upper hand with their words, and they are quickly and easily offended and angered by mere words. What are your triggers? Lay them aside!
MUTUAL Respect – It has been said that mutual respect is about everyone being valued for who they are and what they bring to the table, treating others in a thoughtful and courteous way. To put it plainly, to have mutual respect is to obey Phil 2:3-4,“Don’t act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves. Don’t be concerned only about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others.” (GW)
Learn what topics to discuss and what topics to leave alone –When I was a kid, we were taught not to discuss politics and religion with others. Why? Because those are fuel and fire subjects. Some people can handle certain subjects, and some cannot. Even amongst believers there are some subjects that are just fighting words to some people i.e. Bible translations or Mid, Pre, Post, or No Trib rapture. Geez Leweeze!
The world would be a lonely place if we just shut down conversation with friends and loved ones because we can’t talk about one or two subjects without heated debate. However, one who is mature knows which subjects to discuss with whom and which subjects to leave alone.
PRAYER, one of the most underused tools for life we have – So often human beings just run their mouths. Everything we hear, we gotta go tell it. Everything we think, we gotta go tell it. There is nothing wrong with having conversation, but believers should develop the habit of prayerful conversation. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in what to share and what to hold. Don’t be a sieve! I don’t care what anybody says, you do not have to tell others everything you hear. If I was a gambler, I would almost bet my life that most professing Christians talk 19 to the dozen without ever letting the Lord direct what they say. We like to think its just innocent talk, but its not. We are to be disciplined in what we do. We are to acknowledge God in ALL our ways…in everything we do, and that includes talking!
I remember when I was a kid, a guy who worked for our neighbor said he would help me with fractions. Well, I can do math with good instruction. I do not do well with anything if someone is yelling at me, being mean to me, etc… My brain just can’t function under that kind of pressure. So, I was not getting the math quick enough for this dude. He starts fussing at me because “it’s simple! Why can’t you understand this?!” His fussing at me instantly started the discombobulation ball rolling. Then he cussed at me! I got my math book from him and went in the house LOL. He said, “where are you going? I thought you wanted me to help you.” I said never mind, and promptly went in the house and closed the door. I never mentioned math to him again. I went to my grandmother instead.
My point in sharing this is, that guy’s delivery hindered communication. Thinking back, I believe he was serious about trying to help me, but he did not have the grace, compassion, or patience to teach. He forgot that He already knew how to do what was very new to me. (And he also didn’t know me very well. My parents didn’t cuss; I didn’t have to put up with it from any adult and I knew it!)
Who is Lord of Your Life?
In the midst of your “discussion” what if Jesus walked in? What would He say about YOU?
You should be known by your love (John 13:35, Gal 5:22-23). How do others know you?
Sometimes there is merit in the common complaint of others. Don’t take offense, examine yourself…in light of the WORD of God and Jesus’ example. Do you match it? Is there absolutely no merit to what others have said? Not even a little? Is there ANY room for better in your behavior towards others? Pertinent questions for self-examination are enumerable, let’s use them to grow and become better, stronger examples of what true disciples of Jesus look like.
It is great to develop our faith in God. Every believer should do that!
It is great and exciting to see the results in our lives that comes from trusting God.
It is great to want others to develop their faith in God, to see the same results etc. That is wonderful and as it should be!
We had better put just as much focus in to learning how to love according to the Word of God. We need to be just as determined to become more and more like Christ each day in how we treat others, as well as how we talk, think, and behave! If we let the love of God rule in our hearts, then everything else will fall into place.
How many of you have studied love according to scripture? If you haven’t, I encourage you to do so. Start with 1 Cor 13 and break down each word Paul uses to define Love. Measure your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions against what you learn. Be honest regarding what you discover about yourself; don’t let pride get in the way.
One day we will go to our eternal home. Remember there is a standard of living there that is not set by man, and it is not based on the tendencies of the flesh. We are developing our character here. Let us cooperate with God as He transforms us into the image of His Son.
Until next time,
LET’S HEAR SOME CHATTER OUT THERE!
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
What are some life lessons you have learned along the way?