Yesterday, I attended a day of conversation on one of those “hot potato” issues that is facing the Church today.
Over the years, there have been many issues both great and small that Churches have argued about and divided over. What struck me with yesterdays discussion was, it was a conversation. It amazed me that, in the room were people of all manner and shades of opinion on that “hot potato.” Yet we were able to have a civilised discussion without accusation and anger.
Recently, in our nation, we have faced one particular “hot potato” and I know that amongst my readers are all shades of opinion. What has saddened me, more than anything else, is the language that has been used. Anger, aggression, accusation and name calling have been used to divide people rather than help them to understand someone else’s point of view.
Maybe it is because we do not know how to really listen. Too often, we listen in order to respond rather than listen in order to understand.
Equally, conversation has become about debate rather than understanding. We speak in order to convince the other they are wrong and we are right. When we do this then, as the Apostle James warns us;
It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it
(James 3 vs. 5 – 6 The Message)
Yesterday was an important day, for me, and left me convinced that our speaking and listening needs to change. We must learn how to have conversations rather than debates. We must stop seeking to win arguments and start seeking to gain wisdom.
What will you do to encourage the conversation?