In America, we are in the full season of politics, elections, candidates, ballots, etc. Two years ago, this space was toxic, combative & divisive on a good day. I’m grateful that this political season isn’t quite as venomous as the one two years ago and we would be wise to pause and reflect.
Regardless of your political affiliations or bend, I’d like to propose a few questions for your consideration:
Have you educated yourself on the issues, candidates, platforms, etc?
Are your thoughts and emotions based around genuine love? Is there fear, greed, power, insecurity lurking in your soul that could influence your voting?
If someone votes or thinks different than you, can you maintain a respectful conversation?
Have you prayed for this election, the candidates, ballots, our nation, etc?
Regardless of how the elections turn out, let’s be committed to express genuine as followers of Jesus! I say this because of His words in John 13:35, “They will know you follow Me by your love for one another.”
One of my all time favorite platforms to recognize Jesus is in small groups, Bible studies & prayer groups. And it seems logical that this would be true based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:20 when He says, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there in their midst.” Some of the things I love about these settings are:
Robust conversations about Jesus from various points of view. Different perspectives help me see & experience Jesus in fresh & new ways.
Prayer support in the group.
Recognizing Jesus words, presence, power, wisdom & loads more, like when Jesus walked along the Emmaus’ road & talked with His followers even though they didn’t recognize Him in those moments.
Seeing the Fruits of the Spirit in first person experience because there’s always some kind of conflict or rub whenever you bring people together 🙂
Let’s be sure to keep some fellowship with other followers of Jesus as part of our essentials routines!
It seems to me that we all have various conflicts & hot spots that we have to manage – such hot spots could include: stressful conversations with co-workers / classmates, conflict with our mates, harsh words between friends, scratchy people, etc. Regardless of having hotspots, which seem to be inevitable, here are some ideas for constructive words that might come in handy:
*a soft answer turns away wrath (Prov 15:1): you are a really gifted person with (name a talent they have)
*words seasoned with grace (Col 4:6): I believe that you were trying your best in this situation (give the benefit of the doubt)
*be quick to listen (James 1:19): Please help me understand what you’re concerned about (seek to understand the other person’s point of view)
*be encouraging (1 Thess 5:11): I really want to encourage you that I see you’re trying hard in this situation; I want to encourage you that I see talents, gifts and potential in you that you may not see
*pursue peace (Rom 14:19): Here’s the common ground that we can agree on (describe something about which you agree)
What are some suggestions you’d give us that could also be helpful?
I had an interesting discussion recently with a friend related to talking with people about Jesus. It seems to me that sometimes we can get a little jittery about talking about Jesus with someone who isn’t necessarily a follower of Him (particularly if you lean in the introvert zone). Our culture also says that we are supposed to be tolerant & any overt or heavy duty proselytizing is nothing less than entirely offensive, rude & even repulsive. So talking about Jesus can get dicey.
So here’s an interesting thought, let’s start having spiritual conversations in our daily living, even with people who don’t necessarily believe the same way you do. Some things that can be helpful when having spiritual conversations include:
*listen: ask questions & pay attention
*respect: winning, convincing, coercing & shame don’t belong in these kinds of conversations; be gentle
*avoid the subjunctive: “should” & “ought to” tend to be unhelpful at best
*have spiritual chats with followers of Jesus: share with someone what God has been speaking with you about
We have had access to massive communication improvements over the past few decades. If you think about it, did you ever pull the phone cord out of the wall? In the ’80s, a tweet would have been “twit” mis-pronounced. And my idea of “wifi” in the ’70s was more like “hi-fi” in our house with speakers in every room so I could play records throughout the house at maximum volume. Communication has certainly improved, but we can all stand to make some improvements in our inter-personal communication, especially as it relates to conflict 🙂
Here are some tips that you might find useful in resolving conflict:
Understand the issue: get on the same page about what you’re discussing because often the center of the conflict comes from not discussing the same content
Separate what was said from what was heard (that’s not what I said, but that’s what was heard)
Consider the emotions & expectations associated w the conversation – these items can make communication hazy & ineffective if they’re not identified
Be patient & listen without asserting your opinion
Own your part of the communication challenge – blame sabotages communications & does nothing constructive
Be clear by removing subtleties, nuances & emotional telepathy; these efforts will only leave you frustrated
I’ve been thinking a lot, lately about wisdom. In fact, I’ve been trying out that “Read a Proverb a Day” plan (since there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, it makes it easy) & I’m really liking it! I’m getting ready to start my 3rd time around & its been really helpful. Here are a few quickie take-aways that seem to be sticking to my ribs of late:
timing reveals a lot about a person’s level of wisdom or foolishness
doing the “right thing”, while not easy, is wise
anger can sabotage wisdom
wise friends can also be scratchy but can also make us more sharp
I know I worte yesterday about Joseph having a courageous conversation related to his boss’s wife trying to hit on him, but Joseph had other courageous conversations as well. Another example of his courageous conversation is his discussion with some servants of Pharoah who had been thrown in prison w Joseph – the cupbearer & baker. In this conversation with these men, Joseph interpreted their dreams. One would live & be restored to his position under Pharoah & the other would die.
Now, here’s why I think Joseph’s conversation with these men was courageous – he was concerned. The reason I think Joseph’s concern was courageous is because the opposite of concern, apathy & selfishness, are the coward’s reply to the needs of others. When these men told Joseph their dreams, there wasn’t much that Joseph could do to help them, but he could use his God-given talents with interpreting dreams to express his concern.
In a similar way, there are probably some people in our lives with whom we need to have a courageous conversation to express our concern & care – maybe concern about their choices, relationship w God, etc.
Apathy is for cowards, but concern is for the courageous
Wow! This is certainly a theme in my life right now! A courageous conversation is a discussion that requires courage – it can require courage for a variety of reasons. As such, let’s look at Joseph (in Genesis 37-42) to look at 1 of his courageous conversations:
Maybe Joseph’s first courageous conversation required bravery because of his convictions. Consider his dialogue with Potipher’s wife, who wanted to make out w Joseph. When you read what Joseph said in Gen 39:8-9, you can see that he needed courage to say what he said: “But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?'”
Convictions require courage & when we are asked to do something that violates our convictions, we must draw on God’s strength & wisdom to share with diplomacy & bravery that we will not violate those convictions. Let’s be brave & gracious in our conversations, with God’s wisdom, strength & love 🙂