I was recently invited to preach at a church near me about the importance of creation care. I carefully crafted a sermon that I thought was equal parts faithful, educational, and challenging. Though I was terrified of my first preaching experience, I thought it went well. At the very least, I didn’t die of embarrassment or pass out from nerves. I received positive feedback on my appearance (that’s a blog post for another day), my speaking voice, and my message. I was thanked for my work and for teaching the congregation something new. Several people pledged to increase their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. It was an encouraging day.
A few days went by and I received a phone call from one of the pastors. It seems one of the members of the congregation, who happened to be a pig farmer, was enraged by my message and the pastor thought he was in need of a follow-up–so I gave him a call.
What happened next was perhaps the most formative experience I’ve had to date about how to have a difficult or emotionally-charged conversation with someone you disagree with. Here’s what I learned:
Listening to understand and listening to formulate a response are not the same thing.
I like to debate, and I like to win. But when you’re trying to form or maintain relationships with people, you need to suspend this desire. The best thing I could do in this situation was to make sure the person felt heard. So I listened. This can be disarming to the person you’re… [Read more…] about What I Learned from Arguing with a Pig Farmer