Respect, Knowledge, Life, and Political Effectiveness
The big picture. Everybody wants to be respected. We all want to be listened to, to be valued and to know that people are actually giving weight to our views. We all want to know what’s really going on, to increase our knowledge of the facts that will help explain our situation and point towards good decisions. And we all want to experience joyful life, which results from those decisions.
While the following examples are dated, some will catch the references. Think E F Hutton, the National Enquirer, and Miller Time. We want people to listen when we talk, we want to increase our understanding of things, and we want to relax and enjoy life. The sequence is important.
Remember this over the next few weeks as you have political discussions. You have facts that are important for the coming election. But if you share them in a way that tells the other person you don’t respect them, they won’t hear your facts. And the result is not good decisions that would enhance life.
Before you share your understanding of the political needs of our time, you should begin with respect for the person you are talking to. That is, if you want to be heard, to be effective in persuading others, begin by letting them know you give them weight, you respect them. You should also want to listen to them, to their understanding. That’s the only way to make good informed decisions and to live with the joy of having made those decisions.
Married couples who come to a counselor want to have more joy in their marriage. The effective counselor gets them to talk about their perspectives on the issues that brought them to counseling. But he begins by helping them to have and show respect for each other. Without that, the counselor will usually just watch them do the same fighting that brought them in, that robbed their marriage of joy. Without an active respect for one another, there’s not much chance of the sharing and hearing of perspectives that can lead back to a joyful marriage.
When you try to encourage others to vote for a candidate or ballot measure, begin the conversation by showing your respect for the one you are talking to, and a sincere desire to hear their views too.
By the way, this is precisely how God deals with us in worship. The historic liturgies begin with confession, move to the sermon, then to the Lord’s Supper. When we go to church, we begin by confessing our sins, and God responds by assuring us that we are forgiven. He gives us glory, which means weight. Then, through the preaching of the Word, He gives us a heavenly understanding of what’s really going on in the world in which we live, and how we should act. And finally, He brings us to rejoicing life in community via the Lord’s supper. In worship, God gives us the gifts of weightiness, knowledge, and rejoicing life, all mediated through Jesus Christ. That’s a model for all of life in community, our marriages and our politics.