A sentiment that I've expressed on plenty of occasions, unfortunately. Most of the time I'm a pretty easy-going guy but when the conversation moves on to something I feel strongly about, I can get very aggressive and unpleasant. Maybe I need to take on board something that Brian McLaren wrote on his blog yesterday (the post in full is here):
I've found (both in marriage and during my years as a pastor) that if you seek agreement, you often don't get understanding. If you seek understanding, agreement often works itself out.
McLaren wrote these words in response to a guy asking him how he can talk through a difficult issue with his wife. It's not about seeking agreement; understanding is what we should be aiming to achieve.
How difficult this is, though! How natural to try and convince others that I am right and they are wrong! And how strongly my proud nature protests against McLaren's suggestions – 'Don't defend yourself at all... Just listen deeply... and don't move forward until she's satisfied that you fully understand'.
But it's so obvious and simple, isn't it? When I'm talking with someone I want them to understand my point of view, I don't just want them to try and convince me of theirs. So, clearly I should treat people like this myself; as Jesus said:
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Lord, have mercy and give me grace...
And not, 'Oh look, this is futile'!