My friend, Doug Phillips, has written a brief, careful and respectful blog post on a rather emotional issue, government education. You can read it here: http://www.visionforum.com/news/blogs/doug/2011/09/9638/. My goal here is neither to repeat his wisdom, nor to defend it, but rather to consider my own sins. This issue is, of course, a rather emotional one. It involves any number of significant life decisions, touching on family income, wives working, family size, home location, etc. This is not a decision that can be hermetically sealed off from the rest of our lives. Most important of all it touches on the immortal souls of those whom we love most dearly, our children.
I, in seeking to persuade others on this issue, often feel as though I am talking to a brick wall. I feel like, no matter how gentle I might be, no matter how logical my arguments might be, I just can’t be heard. No matter how tactfully I might approach the subject, some parents simply hear judgment, and turn off their ears.
Which today has me wondering, on what issues am I like this? Over what issues are others warned, “You can’t talk to him about that, he won’t hear you.”? Or what ideological peer group am I a part of where our whole group is guilty- “You can’t talk to those people about that.”? I’m certain there are many things I am wrong about. The Bible makes that abundantly clear. But one hopes that the Holy Spirit is sufficiently at work on many of my errors that the path is paved for correction to come along. Where, though, have I set up blustery, emotional roadblocks?
And what can I do about it? I’m sure this brief piece will elicit a few suggestions from friends who have tried to get through to me in the past. But I don’t need to hear the same arguments I have refused to hear before again. What I need is a way to learn my deaf-spots. Only when my hearing is cured, or rather, only when I take my fingers out of my ears, is it time for the actual arguments.
I suspect there is likely only one cure--faithful friends. I remember a disagreement I had with my friend Doug Phillips. We were both invited in to deal with a tangled pastoral mess. I gave my counsel to those most intimately involved. Two days later Doug called me. He spent twenty minutes needlessly reminding me of our friendship, needless because if ever there was a man who is for me, it is Doug Phillips. Then he spent twenty minutes explaining how I had been wrong in my counsel. The last eighteen minutes were overkill. Because my ears were opened, it became rather easy to see my error.
My counsel today then is both to be a friend, and to heed the wisdom of your friends. Before you do, however, be careful to understand what a friend is. A friend, remember, is someone who loves you enough not only to tell you you are wrong, but loves you enough so that you can hear it.