I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m the king of last words. Just ask my wife.
Even though I’ve become better over the years, my tendency is to approach arguments as if they were high school debates. Only one side will be declared the winner and it must be me.
I ramble off all my key points in hopes of opening the eyes of those who, for whatever reason, can’t see that logic and truth are on my side (note sarcasm).
When I let the other person actually get a word in edge wise, I’m not paying attention to what they have to say. I take that back, I do listen, but not with the right motives. I want to hear something I can pounce on and once I’ve got that little nugget I glaze over everything else being said. As the other person rambles on, my mind is constructing a retort and rebuttal.
Of course, I’m taking creative license and pushing these points to the extreme, but my reaction to an argument isn’t unique. In fact, I would dare say that many of you approach crucial conversations the same way. We want our points to be heard. We desire to be on the winning side. We long to be proven right.
We’ve got it backwards: we are quick to speak and display anger, but so very, very slow to listen. Our ears aren’t tuned towards understanding, but instead firmly rooted in pride. Rather than looking for ways to serve, we demand our needs get met. In these moments, our thoughts and feelings tend to trump the truth.
We don’t work towards understanding. Instead we crave victory. But, in the words of Pastor Rick Warren we should “go for the love, not the win.” Having a winning mindset towards these crucial conversations makes understanding impossible. It also kills dialogue and chokes out compassion. Each party leaves frustrated and feeling misunderstood.
Love looks for the good in people. Love searches for understanding. Love extends mercy and forgiveness. Love creates an atmosphere of openness and transparency. Love wants the best for the other person.
Now, please understanding. Love doesn’t mean we always agree, become a pushover, bite our tongue or never have an opinion. It means that we let the love of Christ guide our thoughts and our words as we speak the truth in love to one another.
- How do you normally approach arguments or disagreements? How does this approach influence the dialogue and nurture the relationship?
- What was the last argument you found yourself in? Has that relationship been mended? How is your heart towards this person?
God, help me to go for love instead of the win. May I seek understanding rather than being declared the winner in my arguments. Allow me to desire unity and understanding. Help me to listen first before I speak. Guide my words today. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.