How To Have A Drama Free Thanksgiving

When should a Christian speak up and when should they shut up?

At the time of this writing it is just a few days away from Thanksgiving.  It’s a time of year we get to spend time with our family, be thankful, and argue meaningless politics over a family meal.  Whether it is at the dinner table or on social media, our culture is full of political opinions and division.

As a Christian how do we balance Romans 12:18 which says, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone,” with our great desire to tell everyone we know our great wisdom on who to vote for that will save the country?

My friends and family are like yours; they are passionate about political issues. As a pastor I often wrestle with when to speak up and when to shut up.  I am a person who speaks more than I listen. This can get me in trouble.

The older (and hopefully wiser) I get the more I keep my mouth (and social media account) shut when it comes to political opinions. There are no lack of pastors and spiritual leaders speaking into politics. Some even run for office themselves.
Jesus told His followers how to live but that is not the same as telling a nation how to govern. The disciples of Jesus and the crowds on multiple occasions tried to make Jesus their political leader (king). He would have none of it. He clearly showed the path to have, ‘God’s Kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is In Heaven’ was not through any political means. It would be through His disciples living differently and sharing the gospel that would be the change agent in the world. Christians would not take up arms but lay down their lives as sheep to the slaughter.

Here are a few things I am learning from watching years of endless political debate on TV, online and in person.

Political debates/arguments are almost never helpful and almost always cause further division.

Whether you believe the President is an orange buffoon or if you believe that Hillary Clinton should be locked up, or both, telling everyone probably will change no ones mind.  I know that when I put something on social media I have many friends with many different political beliefs. I don’t want to risk a greater wedge between a potential friend and myself over a fruitless argument. I would rather be a bridge builder than a wedge driver. The gospel of Jesus is by its very nature offensive. The gospel reveals our sin in order to give us the good news of repentance and faith in Jesus. Politics just divide and hurt.  I see it everyday online from all parties.

Jesus chose to stay out of explicitly political arguments and this is a great principle for me to follow.

Jesus always spoke spiritual truth. When He would address spiritual issues of the day it would often bleed over into addressing the political issues of the day. He could not have been clearer about the fact that His kingdom was not of this world. Ours should not be either.

Both Parties have flawed platforms

The fear of elevating a party and arguing its points is that you can become part of group thinking that never opposes your party.   I often disagree with policies and people on both sides of the aisle.  As a Christian, you should too.

My job is to speak Biblical truth and when that spills over then it spills over but it should not be my aim to get tied up in political arguments.

If someone really cares about my opinion about a political matter then they will ask me. If they ask me I will tell them.  For a Christian the goal of life is not to support an elephant or donkey. We have allegiance to a Lamb. We lay down our lives so that others may know Him. My political leaning could be a stumbling block for people knowing Jesus. I don’t want to be a stumbling block.

A few guiding questions:

Is speaking about politics your calling? 

God specifically calls out people to speak to certain issues.  If this is you, then go for it, but this is not most of us.

Is this helpful?

Is what you’re about to say going to help anyone or is it just sharing your opinion?  

Did you take a day to think about the repercussions?

Most of the time when share something that offends or “triggers” others it is because we did it in hast.  Whatever you share on the Internet is forever…even if you delete it. Screenshots can be made of whatever you post and can come back to hurt you later.  If you think your post might cause unnecessary division then take a night to think and pray about whether to say or post it.

Does your spouse think you should say/post it?

My wife is great at telling me what is and what is not helpful…if I would just listen to her.

Will this drive an unnecessary wedge between you and your friends and family?

Will people you love lose respect for you because of your engagement in this discourse?

One of the hardest things about the last Presidential cycle was how many spiritual heroes I lost great respect for because of how they voiced their political opinions.  In my eyes many of those leaders showed blatant hypocrisy in their politics.  These are leaders that I now no longer look up to as I once did.  I do not want what I think politically to make me lose spiritual influence with someone who may look up to me.

When it boils down to it the Thumper rule is always a powerful rule.  You remember Thumper from the movie Bambi.  His mother told him, “Thumper, if you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all.”    If we all lived by the Thumper rule oh how different our world might be.

Screen Shot 2018-11-19 at 6.35.39 AM.pngSo for the most part, I will simply keep my mouth shut about things political.  I will speak for life and I will speak for issues, but I will try to stay above the drama and hurt.  There is a wise Proverb from the Bible that can really help when it comes to this area of life.

Proverbs 17:27-28 “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.  Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

After looking at everything, if you are still unsure whether you should speak up or not…it is probably best to just keep it to yourself.

 

 

 

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Find A Life Speaker

High school is a crucial time in everyone’s life as you are really navigating what it means to be a young adult and what you are supposed to do with life.  Coach Miller was one of my high school football coaches that led our FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and every time he saw me in the hallway he would smile and say, “Hermann, you’re a winner!”  I don’t know if he meant it, but when he said it, I believed it.  He made me feel like a winner.  I have always wanted to make others feel that way.

Who is in your life that is a voice that reminds you of who you can and should be?

We all want to live life well and one of the best ways we can do that is to find someone who is ahead of us and learn from them.  This is literally what the word disciple means in the New Testament.  A disciple was someone who followed someone else.

I read somewhere that you become like the 5 people with whom you spend the most time.  Think about those 5 people.  Are those 5 people the people you want to be like?  The next season of your life may look a lot like the current season of the people you are following.

One of my high school Sunday school teachers was also one of my football coaches and he told me when I was 15 that I was going to be a preacher.  He saw something in me that I did not see in myself that sparked a dream in my life to tell others about the hope of Jesus.

Another pivitol voice in my life was my current Pastor.  13 years ago when I was just a young man about to get married he called me and said he saw something in me and wanted me to consider coming to be part of the ministry staff of the church I currently serve in.  I told him, “No.”  He did not take no for an answer and kept pursing me.  I eventually said yes and it forever changed my life.

Thoughts become things and words become worlds.  The people that you allow to speak into your life will be the ones that shape your future.

Who are your mentors?

Jesus had 12 that He invested in.  The Apostle Paul was always bringing others along the journey with him.

A mentor will tell you the truth when you don’t want to hear it.   They will try to say it in a way that you can receive it.

A mentor will encourage you when you get down.

A mentor will give you wisdom from their life that you don’t yet have.  They let you borrow their wisdom and make it your own.

A good mentor will show you how to live well.

I am blessed to serve on a team where the four men I serve with are all around ten years older than me. All of them have families that I want to emulate.  All of them are great husbands.  They are great fathers.  All of them have been faithful like I want to be.  They mentor me each week whether they know it or not.

Who is your mentor?  When you look at all the relationships in your life, find those people in your circle of influence that stand out as someone you would aspire to be.  Hang around those people.   Ask them for some of their most precious resource, their time.  If you ask them for their time then don’t waste it.

Listen to them.

Learn from them.

Live better.

Repeat.

Write down three names that come to mind of people you would like to have invest in you.  Make a plan this week to make first contact with them about potentially helping you become a better you.