In order to better connect with our friends and neighbors, one of the major hurdles we need to overcome is our natural tendency to immediately correct misbelief.
There are times I believe that if I don’t correct misbelief immediately, I will be unfaithful to the truth. So, I’m quick to speak and slow to listen. Contrary to popular belief, your silence does not mean your endorsement!
Silence combined with curiosity can actually lead to deeper understanding.
Here’s a recent example:
Person 1: (Raised in the Roman Catholic Church, learning how to read the Bible, stumbled across the book of Jude)
“I am so excited to finally know who I am praying to when I pray to Jude.”
Person 2: (Friend with a deep understanding of the Scripture, love for their friend, compassionate, learning how to engage those who believe differently)
“I don’t pray to Jude. I can go directly to Jesus. Jude won’t hear me anyway. He died. He’s a man just like me. I can go directly to Jesus with my prayers.”
Correcting without invitation can close off further conversation. I call this correcting prematurely. This self-focused response can actually have the opposite effect we hope for.
In the actual case above, Person #1 stopped engaging. They withdrew from the relationship, and, quickly. Now Person #2 has got some damage control in front of them.
But at least Person #1 knows the truth now, right? At least they know Person #2 doesn’t agree! Insert sarcastic tone here.
Instead of correcting prematurely, try this:
Stay with the person where they are and see where the conversation goes.
Say: Tell me more.
Person #1: “I am so excited to finally know who it is I am praying to when I pray to Jude.”
Person #2: Tell me more.
In the next conversation you have where you experience the strong urge to correct prematurely, put this simple move into practice: say,
“Tell me more.”
Go ahead. Try it.
Let me know how it goes.