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Pointers along the way #305

Is it OK to disagree?
- Jacob Ninan

No one likes others to disagree with them. Some people think that to disagree with someone is a mark of disrespect or pride. To question someone in authority would be unthinkable? Is it better to bury our disagreement than to risk displeasure?

The fact is, nobody agrees 100% with anyone else. None of us knows everything or does everything right. Sometimes we are right and sometimes the others are right. One secret of maturity is to recognise this, accept this, and be willing to change our opinions as soon as we find we were wrong. There is nothing demeaning in thinking we were wrong, because whether we like it or not, we are wrong many times. Even the apostle James acknowledged that he often made mistakes (Jas.3:2). To acknowledge that we make mistakes and to admit them when we make them is to be real and upright. Our mistakes do not make us less than human, because all of us make mistakes. They only demonstrate the fact that we are not perfect, but far from it. When we make a mistake it doesn't mean that we should give up. If we relate our self-worth to a mistake-free life, we are binding our lives to despair. We haven't understood how much God has valued us, when we were hopeless sinners, and gave His life to redeem us (Ro.5:8).

When we disagree with another person what we are doing is to recognise that he also is not perfect. It is a sad life if we just swallow everything that some preacher tells us, because then we are making a god of him in our mind. But when we disagree, we can start thinking about who is right. If we see that we were wrong, we can change, can't we? But if we imagine that to question someone is pride and give up using our mind, we will be slaves to others, and we will never grow. If we don't question things around us, we will be confining ourselves to lifelong mediocrity.

On the other hand if we disagree because we are stubborn, and we don't want to let anyone show that we are wrong, that would be pride. Then we assume we are gods. If we go on arguing even when we are wrong (and know it), we may be stubborn, or we may even be insecure regarding our self-worth. We are unable to accept the fact that we could be wrong.

Many cults form because people are unwilling to question things, and the leaders give the impression that to disagree with them is pride. It is a wrong understanding of leadership, authority and humility. Mature leaders recognise that they can be also be wrong, and are always willing to listen to others and make changes.

God has made all of us in such a way that we need to learn from the others all the time. It is not just that they may know things we don't know. Even when we think we are right, someone else can give us a different perspective that can enhance our understanding. How we impoverish our lives when we stop listening to others!


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