“How Do You Respond to People Who Disagree with You?”
Thanksgiving is on the way, which means having to sit around the table with kith and kin who don’t see eye to eye on mostly petty things, but sometime important things. Being able to negotiate relational rough spots is a lifetime challenge. I’ve been at this church long enough to experience this common human endeavor. And all churches have their ways of dealing with it. Like with individuals, some do well, others, not so good.
Part of the problem is a breakdown in common sense. With folks coming from all different backgrounds, with a variety of experiences and family habits that influence our world view, how can we expect to always see issues alike? It is natural to gravitate to those who see the world like we do I suppose. Who hasn’t wondered why everybody can’t see things like I do; to live like I live; like what I like? But alas, I have a wife. We each have our “ways,” and we often get crosswise about those ways. But we’ve been together 58 years, so we must be doing something right. I know it’s cheaper to keep her, but it’s more than that.
What is the trait that allows people to stick together even when they don’t see eye to eye? You’re onto something if you have that.
For one thing, this generation gives up too easily. A certain stubbornness is called for in building lasting relationships. Stubborn can be good if it leads to healthy results. The Bible calls it perseverance, but you get the the idea.
Another thing that enables people to stay connected when it’s easier to vacate the premises, is flexibility. Or not always thinking that you can get your way every time. This characteristic does wonders in terms of a good fit. Fit is critical in relationships. You not only have to find a fit but then you have to maintain it. That calls for lots of adjustments. Some folks come down hard on the rigid side in dealing with others. Others are more gracious and humbler, who are ready to admit, it might be me who doesn’t fit. The rigid ones are convinced of their correctness. Therefore, it’s the other guy who’s wrong. That way he needs to change, not me. How inconvenient, to think that I might need to change! Some folks just lack self-awareness.
The biggest impediment to healthy relationships is poor self-management. It exposes perhaps our greatest weakness, namely, spending most of our time trying to control what can’t be controlled (others). And not enough time on the only thing that can be controlled, namely, our own self-management. Before we can manage anything, especially ourselves, we have to get ourselves off our hands. Those who take themselves too seriously and others not seriously enough are the hardest to get along with.
The Military is good at blending opposites for the sake of fulfilling an important mission. Jesus laid it on his generation. “To what shall I liken this generation.” He seemed to be at odds with his. Wonder what he’d think of ours?