I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how divided our country is. Not only are we divided, but we have turned into a bunch of haters of each other. It seems to have a disagreement of opinion automatically shuts us off from each other. We then can retreat to a place of marginalizing each other, then to personal assaults and finally to demonization and hatred. How can we ever get back to a place of civil discourse and agreeing to disagree while still respecting each other?
In a timely move, Rep. Trey Gowdy and Sen. Tim Scott have co-written a book from Tyndale House called Indivisible: Overcoming Our Differences, One Friendship at a Time. I haven’t read it, but I have seen them do interviews about it and applaud them for their efforts. Here’s the product description from Christianbook.com: “Our country is divided and desperate for unity. But there is hope! Two elected representatives from South Carolina show how they have developed a deep friendship despite their different races, life experiences, and pathways. With honesty and vulnerability, they urge us all to evaluate our own stories, clean the slate, and reach out to others.” I pray this book sparks a movement of respect and willingness to dialog together over important issues.
The dialog only starts when kindness is expressed—back to our tips on mentoring. No one wants to listen to the most well-crafted argument you may have, until they know you will see them as individuals, listen without judgment and know that you will commit to working through differences in relationship. (See last post.) Jesus, of course, was the master teacher. He was also the master at seeing even the most marginalized person as valuable. He listened to what they needed and he responded with great kindness and compassion.
There are at least two models of persuasion: the Greek model and the Hebrew model. The Greek model is the classroom model. It is academic, passive and theoretical. A wise teacher imparts knowledge to the students. In the Hebrew model a mentor invites students to travel with them. It’s relational, experiential and on-the-job training. Jesus used the Hebrew model to great effect for His disciples. They were able to listen to him, even his radical/ideology changing ideas, because he was willing to spend the time with them they needed to hear him out and consider what He was saying. He welcomed their questions and wasn’t “in their face.”
In Matthew 4:19, Jesus said, “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’” He didn’t say, “come listen to my persuasive arguments” or “come let me tell you how you have been believing wrongly up to now.” He just said “follow me.” In the following him during the daily life over three years, they learned and changed. In Mark 3:14 &15 we see his modeling to them. “He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” They were with him, they watched him and learned from him, then he sent them out to teach others. In Acts 4:13 we learn, “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” The chief quality to be a world changer is to be with Jesus.
I say all this to suggest that in mentoring relationships we have the opportunity to change the world by influencing one life at a time. Show kindness to one. Model trust in God through all circumstances. Discuss with dignity weighty issues of faith and the world. Show that we can agree to disagree and remain friends. Focus on what binds us together in unity. Then you will gain a platform to speak into concepts you wrestle with together. To slightly change Gowdy and Smith’s book title: “Grow in Unity One Mentoring Relationship at a Time.”