Conflict (usually with a good verbal spat) is a regular part of all our human relationships. We “fight” over silly things like which show to watch on the TV, which restaurant serves the best hot sauce for our chips, what road gets us to our destination first, or even what shoes we ought to wear to church.
At work we do the same thing. We fuss about copier usage, who cleans up the breakroom, why John gets a day off and I can’t be excused for an afternoon, and on it goes. We verbally “fight” to make our point and get our way.
But such silly verbal conflicts can often reflect much more serious issues. There was one of those in Galatians 2. This time, Paul must confront Peter because he is being inconsistent in his walk.
One of Jason’s points reflected Paul’s great use of a question (see Galatians 2:14). Rather than just attack Peter, Paul asks a leading question which led to understanding.
Question-based conversations are one of the tools you and I can use to “fight to advance the mission” at home, within our extended families, between neighbors, and at work. Carefully presented questions can help us avoid fighting just to “make a commotion.”
Blake Glossen in an article found on Eternal Perspective (Randy Alcorn’s website) says that there are three principles to use in a question-oriented conversation. The first is genuine curiosity. We have to actually care about what the other person is saying. We honestly want to know more. We want to draw out some information in the context of that person’s interests, passions, and motivations.
Hollering at our child, “Why did you do that?” is not a good example of a question-oriented conversation. But a quiet, well-timed moment with your teenager is a great time to explore their reasons for some decision that you disagree with. Hearing their motivation might make all the difference in how you react to that situation.
The second principle Glossen mentioned was the importance of follow-up. In the heat of a verbal battle with your spouse, slowing down to really hear their heart, not just their words, will give you a chance to respond with, “Well, what I hear you saying is…” That follow-up is a much better platform to use for understanding their point of view.
His last point had to do with our commitment to communicate love. Paul loved Peter. He was not out to get him. We too need to give time for love to be expressed, and good questions provide that opening. Remember, everyone has something to say, but few have the opportunity to say it.
This week, let’s all be about the pursuit of fighting to advance the mission, not just fussing with each other. Maybe some question-based conversations will help us.