Find us on Google+

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Conversation vs. Conversion - Disagreement

One major difference between conversation and conversion is that conversion is only attempted when there's a fundamental disagreement. You don't need to convert someone who already believes what you believe. Conversation, however, can easily happen between two people who agree or between people who disagree. It doesn't matter what the positions of the people are, the discussion can still happen.

So if you start off with an attempt to convert someone or by trying to undermine the other person's position, you're already starting off from the perspective of conversion. If most people are like me, they don't want to be converted. I know that I don't want to launch into a situation where I'm told that what I think is wrong. I'm happy with what I think (otherwise I wouldn't be thinking it), and for someone to tell me that I'm wrong is, at the first offensive and even if I am wrong, it's a lot of work to change my mind about something. I imagine most people are the same way.

Conversation is much easier. You can present your thoughts and I can present my thoughts and we don't have to come to the same conclusions. There is space for both of us to think, feel and believe what we want.* In conversation there is space for one or both of us to be wrong. We aren't required to put limits on things or to define things, within the conversation. What this ends up doing, in the long run, is allowing you to speak bluntly, even boldly about what you believe and why you believe it, because you aren't framing things in the context of a competition where the end result is a winner and a loser. You're framing them in the context of relationship where each of you gets to share equally without making any demands on the other person. When this happens, your words have more power to change than if you were to win a debate.

Remember, it's not your job to convert people. It's your job to love people.

* I'm not advocating a moral or theological philosophy from this approach. I think that, in the end, there is truth and we can find it and it lives in the person of Jesus. We don't, however, need to make that the basis of every interaction.

No comments: