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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Do You Have A Hard Time Sharing Your Opinions With Conviction?

I have some strong opinions/convictions, but I get squeamish about sharing them with others...if I think they will think I'm judging them (which perhaps I am).

Yes, I just admitted that I struggle with being judgemental.

At least I think I do.

I find myself giving my opinion, but then back stepping on it...trying to find a middle ground. Then I feel crummy later because I feel like I copped out.

Maybe I wrestle with not sharing my opinions with certain conviction because I want to please others. I want to be liked...listened to. I also want to be humble. I know that only God has cornered the market on truth and I am but a sinner (actually a saint, but you know what I'm sayin'!).

Let me give you an example: I truly believe with all my being that moms should stay home and raise their children (if they are able) - I believe this is a biblical mandate (I don't expect this of non-Christians...maybe my first problem is that I'm expecting anything). However, I have Christian friends that choose to work and it really upsets me. I want to convince them that they need to stay home and fulfill their God-given calling...but I don't want to be judgemental. I am not the Holy Spirit and I cannot and should not convict anyone of anything (right?)! It's not my job. But how do I balance that with another biblical mandate that says we should "speak the truth in love" and "admonition one another." Hmmmm...

What is your opinion on sharing opinions?

"An opinionated, people-pleaser is a difficult thing to be." Well said Kimba!

"Everything we say has to be said in love or it's just a painful noise. Sometimes that may mean not saying anything at all, especially if you can't think of how to do it." Anne Basso

"I guess the thing is that my readers want to know what I think about things." SquiggleMum

"I think we need to pray and ask for the Lord's guidance before we speak..." Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates


Kimba said...

Oh glory, my friend. I could have written this post. Although I wouldn't have done it as well as you did.

An opinionated, people-pleaser is a difficult thing to be. I have a terribly hard time with this whole area. I really want people to like me. But I want to be truthful also. Sometimes those two things don't go together. Ugh.

I'm really looking forward to reading the responses on this one.


Anne Basso said...

I have the same problem. I want to reach people with the love of Christ and I'm afraid if I reach out with what "I believe" instead of sharing His love for them, I'll push them away as opposed to drawing them close.

As to working moms, *sigh* that's a toughie. There are a lot of us moms out there in the work force who would love nothing more than to be home all the time. But if we did, we'd lose important things. Not cable or a cell phone, but groceries or electricity. Things my kids at least, are pretty fond of. And it's hard for me to think that anyone would judge me because I'm trying to take care of, and be a good steward for, the children God has given me.

Of course, I work as little as I possibly can, 2-3 days a week. And I work as a nurse, in a facility that is a non-profit Christian organization. I looked to God and He made a path for me. A way to use my career as a ministry and I have offered it up as a service to the Lord and to my patients. My main focus is still my home and family.

I suppose for those who choose to work, the best thing we can do is keep encouraging them to look to the Lord for guidance on how to use whatever they're doing for His glory. I think those who genuinely keep looking to the Lord (not to themselves, or the world) will be led to where God can use them best. And perhaps it is by example, and gentle guidance that you may show them the incredible reward that they will find within their own homes.

I had a drama teacher that used to say "The harder the truth to tell, the truer the friend that tells it." but that has to be tempered with the wise words of Scripture, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." (1 Cor 13:1). Everything we say has to be said in love or it's just a painful noise. Sometimes that may mean not saying anything at all, especially if you can't think of how to do it. Instead, you may speak more by living the example. "When words are many, sin is not absent,but he who holds his tongue is wise." (Proverbs 10:19)

Gosh, I hope you weren't looking for a short answer to that question. ;-)

Sarah Mae said...

Kimba - I think I am definitely an opinionated people-pleaser! Ug!

Anne - you put that so eloguently -thank you!

SquiggleMum said...

Thanks Sarah - I felt like you were speaking to me and it was just what I needed to hear. I too struggle with liking to be liked, and am forever asking God to help me with judgemental thinking. I do want to honestly share my opinions on my own blog, but fear that my readers will feel judged. I guess the thing is that my readers want to know what I think about things. Think I'll give it a go. Deep breath...

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

That is me Sarah Mae! I have such a hard time, especially when it comes to family and friends.

I tried to be a little bold (very hard for me) with my sis today in fact because I found out what some of her beliefs are and I was very disturbed.

I don't think it convicted her or reached her heart, but she is still speaking to me at least. I can still pray and be an example to her.(And please pray for her if you don't mind!)

I think we need to pray and ask for the Lord's guidance before we speak and He will help us to say or do the right things whether they seem like it to us at the time.

Hope I made sense - I'm tired! I do think you are bolder than me when giving your opinions and I admire you for that Sarah Mae! Love ya!! :)

Muthering Heights said...

I feel the same way...I think I'm afraid of starting an argument, or losing a friend. But I'm trying very hard to work on this, especially when it comes to people I truly care about!

Laurie said...

I am for sure a people pleaser, too! And I probably tend to walk on the fence in conversations at times!

But I do also think that even though we have our own convictions, that they aren't necessarily someone else's....and we can't place judgement on those that don't do the exact same things as we do.

I am a stay at home mom, my hubby and I wouldn't want it any other way. BUT, I don't pass judgement on those that feel they need to work outside the home. That isn't our place to do so.

That being said, you could always tell people that you feel for your own family that God wants you to be home with their children. !? Hard one, because that still could come across as judging.

I really liked what a lot of people said on here. Love is certainly an important thing, and praying about what we say is a great plan!!

Kristy K said...

This is me exactly! However, one thing God has been teaching me lately is that there's a place to speak the truth in love and there's a place to remain silent.

I really try to pray that God just leads in those uncomfortable situations where I think I need to say something but I don't want to offend. If I definitely get a sense that He's saying shut up, I try to shut up. But if the person's heart seems open to hearing, then I do my best to be firm but loving.

I've also come to realize that I'm not always right (surprise!) and that sometimes things aren't as black and white as I think they should be. And I've been a big hinderance for the Holy Spirit sometimes because I've given opinions more out of judgment than love. I remember sharing my beliefs with one of my brothers a while ago and afterwards I was pleading with God, "why can't he just listen to me????!" But really, it's not about me at all.

As always, good topic!

heidi jo said...

the Bible does say to speak the truth in love... but just because we know (or think we know) a particular truth doesn't mean we should speak it out loud. the Holy Spirit might call us to say the hard stuff at times... but He may also want to do the work in someone else's heart in a different way.

prayerful caution about when and where to share i suppose.

Tiffany said...

I know exactly where you're comming from. This can be such a tricky area. I like what Anne said...."And perhaps it is by example, and gentle guidance that you may show them the incredible reward that they will find within their own homes."

The Lord does not want us to live a life on the fence. He'd rather us be hot or cold. And He does want us to admonish one another....(but, Gently and in LOVE.) Galatians 6:1 says, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."

The most important thing is to listen to the Holy Spirit. Lisa is also right in saying, "I think we need to pray and ask for the Lord's guidance before we speak and He will help us to say or do the right things whether they seem like it to us at the time." Because, the Lord works on each of us individually. And maybe He is leading your friend to work on her marriage right now, and He'll deal with the stay at home or work thing later. And if you speak, when He is not prompting or leading you to speak, she will not be receptive, and you will just come off as self righteous. I'm sorry to say that I've had to learn this the hard way.
Just bathe it in prayer. And know you are not alone. ~Blessings!

erin said...

I can definitely relate to this. I am a real people-please and hate conflict. My opinion always seems to come out as, "well, the good side is x and the bad side is y". Just pointing out both the good and the bad rather than stating my real opinion or taking a side.

katy said...

I'm there too. I've been praying about talking to my sister about a fault of hers, but as you say, I don't say to be judgmental and afraid she'd get mad at me.

No one likes unsolicited advice. But then I think I wouldn't mind a loving friend telling me something I'm doing wrong.

So perhaps I should get the courage to talk to my sister...

Oh, I agree with you about the working moms, those who work not out of necessity to pay bills, but to pay for cars and clothes.

Sarah said...

You know I pick and choose who I strongly share my opinion with and who I change the subject with.

I have a very strong opinion that children should not go to school earlier than age 10.

I also have in-laws who are retired teachers. So while I talk to them about home preschool that we are doing i may not be so inclined to discuss future homeschool plans with them.

Hmmm well that was sort of rambling...

christinnjon said...

I guess it depends on what we're discussing. If it is an obvious biblical mandate, I will defend the Bible with all that's in me, and I have. People can like me or not, that's not my problem. My duty as a Christian is to speak the Truth in love. I admit, sometimes I can get a little "excited". I can be very firm if people are that way toward me about an issue that there should be no question on.

The only problem that comes with this, is that very often the people I am trying to convince are not receptive to the Truth. Which is why there is a back and forth tug of war at times. Then I let it alone and let God do His thing.

If it comes to an opinion on homeschooling...I will share my opinion in a way that does not bash the other side (public schoolers) because this mandate is not specifically spoken of in the Bible.

Buildeth Her House said...

I know how you must feel. I find that when I offer my honest opinion to my loved ones, it sometimes requires tough love. Especially when standing on the word. I let them know that I am a saint who falls short, but the Word is free of sin.
Next I always know the difference between what I feel is right and what the word of God states.
In the end, I just pray for people, because God's will, will be done no matter what. I've done my part by showing them what the word says, now it's time for me to stand back and let God have his way.

Rafter's-n-Henderson said...

I think that your opinion as well as everyone's opinion should be something of value. You are a wonderful person.

I also think sometimes we should hold our opinion unless someone asks us for our thoughts on a particular subject.

I shared a quote from a book with my friend today and it was "If our experience of love has always been with conditions (I'll support you if you agree with my plan, I'll love you if you do what I want you to do, I'll be with you as long as it doesn't interfere with my life or my plans), then it is difficult for us to comprehend a faithful love that is not conditional - but such is the love of God." SISTER STAN

Hope this quote reaches you the way it did me.

Much love to you .... Jaime

The Lind Family said...

I too believe that mother's should stay at home with their children. (If possible) Thank you so much for writing this post that so many people need to see! You wrote about this very sensitive subject with such grace.
Recently I tried to write about a subject on my blog about friendship. Well, I offended a "friend" and now she has taken herself off of my follower list and also "defriended" me on Facebook. I was so upset, that I deleted the post! I wish I could be a little more bold, but I guess I too want people to like me. I agree...an opinionated, people pleaser is a difficult thing to be!

Beth in NC said...

I don't think I'm a people-pleaser, though I'm sure there was a time when I was.

I agree that we should take a stand on God's Word, but always have understanding that though we feel strongly about something -- God's thoughts are not always our thoughts. What might be God's will for me might not be His will for someone else.

I am very blessed that I can be a stay-at-home Mom, and I have many friends who would give anything to be able to do the same. :o)

Thanks for sharing your heart.


Meags said...

I just found you today from Keeping The Kingdom First blog!

I thought you might like this link since it is on this very subject (and actually what I thought this blog post would be about!) http://thechristianworldview.com/tcwblog/archives/2197

Reborn said...

If you're talking about being judgemental in the blog setting, I don't think it's the same. In a blog, you share YOUR beliefs and convictions. Other people CHOSE to expose themselves to your blog content, and they can take it or leave it.

In the real world, however, I think the rule is only offer your opinion when asked for it. If you're a "living epistle", people WILL notice the life you're "living out loud", and those with open hearts WILL ask what is different about you.

The key is that they have open hearts, though, because otherwise what you intend for good could become nothing more than a debate.

When two christians discuss their convictions with each other with open hearts and a willingness to change and grow, then you experience that "iron sharpenth iron" thing...

heidi jo said...

food for thought... :) the thing about blogs is that they are now public forums and not just private memory journals unless the settings are private and your membership limited... so we kind of have to consider the diversity of readers when we write, don't we? or rather, :) shouldn't we? :)

the Bible guides us specifically on many things but is not outright on ALL things... and even so, again i fall back on the idea that the Holy Spirit convicts of different things at different times for different people. i have to keep in mind i know very little of the people i'm tempted to judge as well. i am trying to put myself in a place to encourage without directing or dictating... a friend may wish she could be the kind of mom who stays home with her kids but has financial issues, depression or other health issues to consider... the child might need special care... i just never know where they are in the private moments of their home life.

anxious to see your next post on sharing opinions effectively.

Melissa D at DropTheBabyWeight.com said...

I'm with Heidi Jo -- conviction comes to different people at different seasons of their lives. The SAHM/WAHM/WOTHM debate isn't as useful as an appeal to each other as sisters in Christ to be open to the Spirit's leading, both in our hearts and in fellowship with our husbands, families, and fellow Christians.

Personally, I believe that *most* families would be served best by a mother at home as primary caregiver. But this is hardly a doctrinal issue or an explicit moral imperative (unlike sex within marriage only, etc).

So I think a statement like "we felt strongly that the best thing for us would be for me to stay at home" is all you need to say if anyone asks. If they want to know more, tell them, but there's no need to force the issue. The fruits of your labors at home will be the testimony of the truth of your convictions.... Just as all the preaching and proselytizing in the world is far less powerful to unbelievers than your daily walk as a believer in Christ.


Warren Baldwin said...

You sure got good discussion going with this one! My wife and I faced the same questions and concerns alomst 24 years ago when our first was born. Only two women at church stayed home (and Cheryl was one of them). We didn't always throw our opinions out (although I did from the pulpit sometimes), but we would discuss them if anyone asked. I think Proverbs 27:17 addresses this: "As iron sharpens iron, so one man (or mom) sharpens another." It is through the abrasive action of living in relationship and verbal interaction that we "wear" on each other and, prayerfully, influence each other in godliness.