It was not a conversation I was looking forward to.
I felt that I was being pushed into it by someone who wanted to prove to me that I was wrong. The disagreement was about a matter of faith, and so they had arranged for me to talk with a retired minister so that he could set me straight.
I agreed to talk with him, but I was dreading it. I knew what I thought, and why. It was something I had thought and prayed about long and hard. I believed I had good, biblical reasons to back up my point-of-view. I was just worried that I wouldn’t be able to articulate them and that this man was going to try to force me to change my mind…
In the end it was one of the most refreshing conversations I have ever had.
Yes, we disagreed on this particular issue, but it never became about trying to win an argument. Instead our conversation was characterised by mutual respect. There was a willingness to listen on both sides. I was able to express my views and feel that they were being heard, and I never felt under pressure to argue my point. I listened as he explained his perspective, and was able to understand it more.
By the end of the conversation we still disagreed, but we parted as friends. Despite our different views we respected one another and wished each other well.
That conversation was several years ago, but I have never forgotten the lessons:
We can disagree and still love.
We can have opposing views but still show respect.
Instead of viewing one another as enemies we can enter into conversation and listen to each other’s perspectives.
We can remember what unites us instead of focusing only on what divides us.
I think the world would be a better place if we could do this more.
I never thought I’d link to a beer ad here, but I think this one by Heineken illustrates the point well! If you have a few minutes it’s well worth a watch.