Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Responding to Disagreeable Disagreers

Not everyone thinks that the way you think is as brilliant as you think it is. That's a humbling slap in the face that is coming if it hasn't already (many times over). How should you respond to people who disagree with you or even criticize your view, beliefs, or practices? Well let's dispense with the obvious... if you are violating Scripture and you are confronted by it (even if those doing the confronting aren't nice or are "judgmental") you who are indwelt with the Spirit will repent and you who are not (because you have not put faith in Christ) must repent and believe on Christ as Lord for the redemption of your sins (1 John 1:8-9).

What about if you have certain Biblical convictions about doctrine or about how to live out said doctrine? What if--gasp--someone doesn't agree with you pastor on who you are "doing church"? I've got folks that have shared their differences with me recently so this is no foreign subject. The first reaction (but hopefully not last) is to get irritated, angry, or defensive. That can easily grow into division with Christian brothers or sisters and bitterness in your heart. Don't go there! Don't let the enemy bring further disgrace to the Body of Christ!

Consider what Proverbs 9:8-9 says, "Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning." What do you prove yourself to be when given reproof, instruction, or teaching? Even if the one communicating the instruction doesn't have all the facts, makes assumptions, seems mean-spirited, or just isn't nice about it do you prove yourself wise and righteous by your response? Here's my two cents in responding to disagreeable disagreers:

1. Hear them out and don't say anything until they are finished and you've had at least a few moments to think through the context and meat of their concerns.

2. As much as is possible, avoid responding over email or texting so that your tone is not confused (and so that you don't say things you'd never have the guts to say in person).

3. Hold their counsel up to Scripture. Even if they had in-Christlike intentions or tone is there anything in their content that the Spirit is using to correct?

4. If nothing else (even if their concerns are baseless and unkind) count it as an opportunity for the Lord to teach you humility and kindness. Christ endured far far far worse!

5. Remember it is not the end of the world if someone disagrees. It doesn't make them your enemy. It doesn't make them a reprobate. It doesn't mean you are a martyr-- so don't feel so sorry for yourself.

6. If their perception isn't reality analyze how you might be creating an inaccurate perception and correct that.

7. Be willing to invest time and friendship to foster clarity. Answer their questions with transparency and be ready to defend what you believe and what you do with Scripture.

8. Keep in mind it is possible you might be wrong.

9. Aim to please Christ. Those who likewise want to please Christ will be pleased but more importantly, He is our Lord and deserves that devotion.

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