I’d like to bring up a difficult subject: The NEED to be right.
The NEED to be right is a dangerous thing.
Ever been around someone like that? It can be annoying enough to where you don’t want to be around that person.
Needing to be right ALL THE TIME is wrong. Why? Because you destroy the relationship. Here, John Maxwell talks about his first two years of marriage. It’s a fairly wordy passage, but worth the read.
“Like most people, I thought I was right nearly all the time, and I let my wife [Margaret] know about it. I’ve always been a good talker, and I can be pretty persuasive, so I used my skills to win arguments. We never yelled or screamed at each other. It was always very rational and controlled, but I always made sure I won. The problem was that with my approach, Margaret always had to lose.We did a lot of things right during those first two years of marriage, but this wasn’t one of them. Unknowingly I was slowly but surely beating Margaret down emotionally. We’d disagree, I’d overreact, and I’d unwittingly lay another brick in the wall that was building between us. I didn’t realize that winning at all costs could eventually jeopardize our marriage. Then one day Margaret sat me down, shared how she felt when we argued, and explained what it was doing to our relationship. It was the first time I understood I was putting winning the arguments ahead of winning the relationship.From that day I decided to change. Realizing that having the right attitude was more important than having the right answers, I softened my approach, listened more, and stop making a big deal out of little things. In time, the wall that had begun to form came down, and we began building bridges. And since that time, I’ve made a conscious effort to initiate connection anytime I’m in conflict with someone I care about.”
“The problem was that with my approach, Margaret always had to lose.” Thats powerful.
Now allow me to bring this home. And it’s probably going to hurt.
I think we (Christians in general) do this all the time concerning spiritual matters.
We have to be right about homosexuals.
We have Scripture that says so.
We have to be right about abortion.
We believe it is a life inside of the womb.
We have to be right about politics.
Our politics match our religious belief.
We have to be right about the Bible.
It’s the foundation of our religion.
We have to be right about how sinful the world is, so we stand on street corners and yell.
We have to get the message out somehow.
Even if we are right, our need to BE right pushes people away.
Ouch. I know. It hurt me when I figured this out, too.
We believe whole heartedly that we are right. And we are passionate in our need to be right because it’s our religious conviction. I am not saying that we are wrong in our dogmatics. And I don’t for a second want us to compromise our beliefs.
But I think we are wrong in our approach. We push people away.
Think of the last time you talked to someone who disagreed with you on homosexuality or abortion. Did you ask, “Well, what do you think?” and respectfully listened?
We quote this passage a lot concerning sharing our beliefs, but I think we miss some key words.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)
Here is another,
“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
These passages talk about keeping respect while sharing your beliefs. And a powerful way to show respect is to listen. Listen to beliefs that differ from yours.
One of the quickest ways to form a relationship, respect, and credibility is to simply ask, “What do you believe?” Of course, you have to listen too.
Also, just to let you know. Conservative Christian beliefs are widely known. Chances are, they already know what we believe. And they assume we don’t want to hear their opinions. So when we ask, it surprises them.
A few months ago, I was listening to a sermon by Jay Bakker. I’ve quoted Jay a few times. He is a liberal pastor in New York who receives a lot of harsh criticism from conservative Christians because of his liberal stances.
During the sermon, Jay was speaking of his critics. He wondered if those harsh critics really loved him. They were so quick to point out where he was wrong. But then he asked a hard question, “Where were you when my wife left me? You were there to pick apart my theology, but where were you when my life fell apart?”
Do his critics really love him? Or do they just want to focus where they are right and where he is wrong?
Do we really love those we disagree with? Are we willing to pursue a relationship with people whose opinions contradict ours?
Do we believe that our need to be right is wrong?