If someone voices an opinion that seriously irks us, we’re tempted to vocalize our knee-jerk response. Before we do, it’s important to think things through.
Here are ten questions we can ask ourselves before responding:
1. Am I responding from my brain or my gut?
The Bible says we are to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (See James 1:19.) Of course, it’s easier said than done, but if we’re “slow to speak,” we’re more likely to have thought through our response.
2. Am I simply jumping on the bandwagon?
We may merely be allowing someone else’s thoughts and feelings to influence our own without stepping back and doing a little research. If we’re particularly passionate about an issue, it doesn’t take much to “set us off.”
3. Am I being myopic? Have I looked at the Big Picture?
Are there bigger, more important issues to be addressed? Sometimes it’s difficult to look beyond our own nose when we allow emotion to dictate our course of action.
4. Would a few minutes of research broaden my perspective?
Take, for example, boycotting a company because they don’t hold the same worldview as we do. We must be careful that the companies we have no intention of boycotting don’t hold the same view. (A basic knowledge of conducting a Google search can yield a wealth of information.) If we act too quickly, we’ll jeopardize our credibility with those who don’t think as we do and likely eliminate any opportunity to calmly discuss the issue.
5. Will my response benefit the hearer?
If we truly have the other person’s best interests at heart, we must be careful to “speak the truth in love.” (See Ephesians 4:15.) It doesn’t mean we compromise truth, but we can express it in a way that builds up rather than tears down. If it’s all about me, I’ll lash out. If it’s for the benefit of others, I will carefully consider how I respond.
6. Will my response affect others – as I’d want it to?
This goes back to how we respond. If we want to open a dialogue and encourage those who think differently to consider another perspective, it means we’ll have to be careful how we approach the subject. We don’t have to capitulate or even compromise those things we believe. But let’s face it, if we come on like gangbusters, “the opposition” will likely hunker down and become even more antagonistic.
7. Will my response cause others to view me as I hope?
And then there’s the matter of our reputation. Most of us want to be seen as reasonable, caring people. If we are too quick to respond, that won’t likely be the case.
8. Does my opinion reflect what I say I believe or am I being hypocritical?
At times, if we allow emotion to get the upper hand, we may come out against something we actually espouse deep down. Most of us have found ourselves in that position. Owning up to it and making apologies as needed will go a long way to rebuilding our reputation. However, if we think before we speak, we avoid having to make this a habit.
9. Am I prepared to devote my time and energy to this cause – whatever it might be?
It’s easy to have an opinion. (I’ve been known to have an opinion about everything – even things I know nothing about.) However, our willingness to devote our time and energy to something should be directly proportional to the level of our response to an opposing view.
10. Does my opinion line up with the Scriptures?
As a Christian, this shouldn’t be the last thing I ask myself. It should be the first.
For years, I didn’t keep a close reign on my tongue. More often than not, I vocalized my emotional state at any given moment. That made life in our house tense, to say the least. It is my prayer that I will think – and pray – before I speak – or post on Facebook.
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26 ESV).