Understanding Each Other

Last evening Lynda and I had the privilege of hearing Ryan Longnecker, (intern working with Bethany’s high schoolers) speak on post-modernism and the emerging church. One of several significant points he made was a quote from his room-mate’s dad.

You can’t even say you disagree with someone unless you can state their side in terms they agree with.

What a simple, yet profoundly important statement! All too often we insist on our own definitions of what others think – as if we are better qualified to tell them what they are “really” thinking and what they believe than they are. But then it actually takes work to listen without latching onto part of a statement and occupying our mind at building a rebuttal rather than hearing the rest of what is being said. We want to be ready to jump in at a pause to speak our mind – not ready to let what has been said sink in. Silence in a conversation? Egad! How scary! We may never get a chance to express the most important side (ours). We need to get away from the fear of silence in a conversation and train ourselves, individually and as groups, to allow time to consider and digest what has been said so that we make sure we are understanding it. But we are not comfortable with silence. We feel that something is wrong – that everyone is at a loss for words, and we have to fill the time with something. We need, we must, get over that and really think about what is being said! We need to be sure we accurately understand before we let our minds work the pros and cons.

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