Some years ago at a board meeting of community organization another board member said, “O no I just agreed with Lindemulder, I better reconsider”. He was a good friend of mine, but despite our friendship we had a number of disagreements on a number of issues. Having served on numerous boards of various organizations, I have had my share of disagreements. Not only do disagreements happen, I think they should happen because they assist us in processing issues. Those who know me or have worked with me know that I have disagreed with them over the years. That includes many of the personalities of agencies within our denomination.
One of the problems in today’s society and especially the political world (U.S.A.) is that if you disagree with someone, you are labeled. The issue is no longer the issue but the person becomes the issue.
As I think about the many disagreements I have had over the years the issue was the issue and we continued to respect each others’ opinions. We did not call out names, insinuate the other person was prejudice or insensitive to resolving the issues.
Disagreements should not become personal. Disagreements should not cause us to “paint” someone in a corner with labels. Disagreements help us to think, reflect and perhaps make adjustments to the position we once thought to be right.
The church, especially leaders in the church, should set that example within its walls as well as within the community. As you take positions, decide issues, do so based on the merits of the discussion not based on the personalities of those who spoke.
I have heard on more than one occasion at Synod and Classis meetings comments about speakers that many times show no interest in what the person saying but had more to do with the personality of the individual. Every person has a right to their opinion and also should be given the opportunity to express it.
I know that as time passes I think about some of the disagreements I have had and reflect on what others said during those disagreements and even though they may have occurred some time ago, they have influenced my thinking today and even caused me to change my position after the fact.
I would hope that despite the infighting (many times petty) that we see in some of our political parties today, that we set a better example and welcome the opinions of every individual who has the right to speak at our various meetings and despite the fact that there may be disagreements, we respect the person and think about his/her perspective.
As Synod is again only a month away I hope that the Lord uses our disagreements to further his kingdom.
How do you handle disagreements in your Council meetings? Are your Council meetings receptive to debate? How do you control disagreements that are more about personalities than they are about issues?