Earning The Right To Speak
One of the biggest problems for people today is that we no longer have to earn the right to speak. With the advent of social media, if you are simply an acquaintance of someone else, you often know more about their beliefs and opinions than you used to know about some of your closest friends.
Years ago, there was no platform for us to announce our beliefs to the world, so for us to share those beliefs, there had to be a relationship with the person on the other end. The funny thing about sharing our beliefs, talking politics/religion, or even giving our opinion about things to people with whom we have a relationship is that there is built-in context to everything we say.
When we share blanket statements to our Facebook friends, post offensive pictures on Instagram, or put up memes that inadequately express how we feel about something, we do so without any context.
When you have a relationship with someone, they know how you act, how you help others, how you donate your time and money to good causes, the difficult things that you have been through to get you to this point in your life...They know you.
So when you say something that they do not agree with or sounds "crazy" to them, they have the ability to hear those things in the context of the person you truly are.
When we used to bring teams down to Haiti, and I mean absolutely no disrespect by this because I did it early on as well, one of the ways that people processed what they saw was to come up with plans that would "fix" Haiti. Things like:
- Have you ever thought about starting this ministry?
- What if you did this differently?
- This is what I think Haitians should do...
I remember the same feeling the first couple of times I came down to Haiti before All Things New even existed. It was like coming to Haiti once or even coming down to stay for a week or 10 days at a time 1-2 times per year made me an expert. All of a sudden, I was going to do something that nobody else in Haiti's more than 200 year history had ever thought of.
Truthfully, in the 6 years we lived there and the almost 10 years we have been doing ministry in Haiti, we were just beginning to build the types of relationships that would allow us to make a difference, and we are not even close to understanding the rich and beautiful culture of the country.
In our world today, we share our opinions about things much in the same way. We react to things based on preconceived notions, the platform of our own political party, and the short headlines that we read on our social media pages with little to no regard to what the Bible says or to what we really believe after studying and understanding a topic.
We share our beliefs and listen to other people with no previous, personal relationship for context so it is easy for us to get more and more entrenched in our own limited understanding of any topic without the benefit of a trusted person who may believe differently than we do.
The bottom line is that we share our beliefs about almost everything without earning the right to speak to a specific person about a specific topic. We earn that right by serving others and building a relationship with other people that cannot be torn apart by a simple disagreement. We earn that right when we are so close to another person that they actually ask to hear our opinion rather than us just sharing everything that comes into our minds.
One of the main problems that we face today is that we no longer have to earn that right...We just take it. We think that based on our education, financial position, expertise, etc. that we have the right to share our beliefs and opinions on everything all of the time.
Our challenge today is to earn the right to speak. Live a life that makes other people want to ask you important questions about what you believe. Earn the right to share what you believe and how you feel so that other people see an uncommon integrity in your life.