For the past few weeks I have been writing about Joni’s cancer and our journey through that trial. I had almost forgotten how much fun it is to write your thoughts on something and have your salvation questioned for your trouble. My wonderful high school basketball coach used to teach us that you “catch more flies with honey than vinegar”. I am sure that my cyber critics will tell you that only truth matters and to sugarcoat it is not necessary.
Here are the basics. I wrote a blog about the distribution of the million dollar bills by the Great News Network. The Secret Service said they were too close to real bills and they seized them from the ministry. I wrote a piece that challenged how GNN responded to the situation. I never questioned their ministry intent. I never doubted their heart to communicate the gospel. My article was based on this one issue. And I made it clear that if the government tried to stop their right to communicate that message I would be an enthusiastic soldier for them. I have received a number of responses. And it struck me how ineffectively many of us communicate when we are angry.
Here is a great clinic on how to communicate effectively if you disagree with a writer.
1) Don’t question someone’s salvation just because you disagree.
Here is the opening salvo from one response…
I can’t believe that someone who professes to be a Christian, and an American statement critical of another Christian who is just upholding the rights granted to him and every other American in our constitution.
I think he or she was so mad at me that they left out some words. Are there any less productive ways to start an argument than “I can’t believe someone who professes to be a Christian would” do whatever. You can disagree with my logic. You can point out the flaws of my position. But you lose me with the insinuation that if I was “really a Christian“ I wouldn’t have written this piece. God is in the business of judging hearts. It is not your job. It will never be your job. Go ahead and resign from that position.
2) Have the courage to use your name
I put my name and email address with my thoughts. The point of blogs like mine is to challenge thoughts on current issues. I respect the feedback of those who have the courage to use their names. If you don’t want to leave your name on the public forum then email me and I will respond. When it is signed the “Unknown Christian” I just picture someone with a paper bag over their head writing to me. I’m sorry. I can’t help it. I still remember the Unknown Comic from the Gong Show.
I would encourage you to look at several articles or posts to gauge the overall heart and spirit of the writer.
4) Try to be reasonable in your persuasion.
Here is the opening line of another response.
Your article regarding The Great News Network is shameful and divisive. Your suggestion that Mr. Rundus violated the law the way a speeder violates the speed limit is unbelievable.
Wow. Does this mean I am off the Christmas card list? Why would I want to read any further? I am shameful and divisive? I am surprised that my dog still likes me. I guess you didn’t notice the title of the website.
5) Try to be gracious in the realization that reasonable people can disagree on issues.
Disagreeing does not make me a bad person nor does it make you a bad person. At the risk of sounding like a bad pop song, it’s only you and me and we just disagree.
Now let me tell you about a couple of responses that got my attention. One came from an employee of GNN. I will not use his name (but he did use his name in the email). He was gracious. He made his points and we are corresponding.
Another response came from the man himself. Darel Rundus sent me a very gracious email. He pointed out that he loved the discussion and that he encouraged opposing positions. He left his contact information and offered further discussion. We are planning on getting together to discuss. If I am persuaded that some (or all) of my comments were off base I will write that. I have no problem with confessing my mistakes and fallibility. Again…check the website title.
But if that happens it will be because of a gracious response from a man who thinks I might still be a Christian. Mr.Rundus was able to understand that my questions were concerning this issue and not his ministry and not him personally. That is how you communicate when you disagree. Mr.Rundus and I may ultimately choose to disagree on this whole debate but I am pretty sure we will part as brothers in Christ who appreciate each other’s efforts to follow Jesus.
When responding to those you disagree with please run it through the spell check and then through the grace check. It will improve your results.