Does anyone doubt that the world needs people to be more loving toward those around them? As a Christian, I believe that loving my neighbor is a command from God, so why, after more than 40 years of being a follower of Jesus, do I sometimes feel like I’m still a freshman at the University of Love and Good Deeds?
Over the years in the classroom of life, I’ve been exposed to many teaching assistants (TAs), who seem to be dropped by God into my life, for no other purpose than to help me learn exactly what it is He wants me to discover. Interestingly, these lessons have a wider application than just my own life and here are a few of my favorites.
- Feed People Potato Chips – When I’m confronted with someone’s skepticism or rejection of my opinions or beliefs, being honestly curious about how they reached their conclusion disarms them and leaves a good taste in their soul, like the right amount of salt in a meal.
- Don’t Throw Salt at Them – Saying to that same person, “How can you not accept that?” is more like pouring salt on an open wound, than giving them something salty to eat.
- Antagonism is Not On Their Want List – We come from such diverse backgrounds, it shouldn’t be a surprise when my views aren’t shared by someone else. But that doesn’t give me the right to disrespect them or their beliefs in our discussion.
- Fools Rush In – Time after time TA’s have told me they would hold off responding to a criticism. Praying was often mentioned as a tool to use before answering a difficult comment. My natural inclination was, all too often, to ‘let them have it’, often with both barrels. When I yielded to that temptation, I usually failed to love.
- Their Thoughts Count – I know what I mean when I say something but that’s only part of the communication equation. How the listener interprets what I say or how it’s said, can be just as critical. I need to take the time and frame my comments in a way that acknowledges their world view.
- Choose Your Words Carefully – It’s much harder to retract something in today’s age of instant communication than it is to say it right the first time. Be slow to speak!
We probably all need to listen to the TA’s in our lives and learn from them. As we do, and become more proficient at speaking the truth in love, our words will be seasoned with the right amount of salt; salt that might make the listener thirst for more of what we have to say.
Scott McIntyre is glad his parents didn’t name him Vladimir or he’d be listed last on this page. While a long time California resident, he was the Oakland Spirituality Examiner for Examiner.com from 2011-12 and about the same time began blogging on several topics. The first, teaching Christians how to lovingly share their spiritual beliefs, emphasized skills that can benefit all forms of one-to-one interaction. He also writes on marriage, travel, downsizing, humor and the motive behind people’s words and actions. After retiring in 2016, Scott embarked on some major ‘R & R’ — Relocating and Rebranding. Following in his sister’s footsteps from the early 80’s, and later in the decade, his parent’s, Scott left the Golden State to become a Washingtonian in a small town just west of Spokane County.