How to Disagree With Anyone

Why I disagree (and why you shouldn't take it personally)

The young man asked to talk to me privately about church matters. He seemed to have two main things on his mind:

  • Why didn’t I go along or fall in line or be agreeable in certain matters?
  • I underestimate the influence (on some people) of the opinions and perspectives of “Brother Mark.”

I assured him that when I disagree, it’s on principle. I told him I don’t make such things personal. He seemed surprised. I was surprised and dismayed at his surprise. And I wondered what he had been “fed” about me.

That was several years ago. As I recall, it was during a recess from an all-day, heavy-duty men’s meeting of our church. It may have been in that time period that I posted this on Facebook on January 26, 2014:

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16)

“Am I therefore become your enemy,
because I tell you the truth?”

(Galatians 4:16)

More recently I posted this on Facebook (and Google+ and Twitter):

If I disagree, it's because of principle or preference.

If I disagree, it’s because of principle or preference.

  • Not because of pettiness on my part
  • Not because of problems between us
  • Not because I want to teach you a lesson
  • Not because you disagreed with me on something else
  • Not because of vindictiveness on my part
  • Not because I have some other sort of score to settle with you
  • Not because I don’t like you
  • Not because I’m trying to show myself independent from you
  • Not because I want you to know what it feels like
  • Not because I’m mad or hurt or defensive

When I disagree with you, I do so due to principle or preference. I don’t like politics and polemics. I’m not disagreeing because of pressure from someone else or because I want to pester you. I’m not preening or posturing. My disagreement is not because of pique or peeve.

I endeavor to be guided by principle, not politics; by conscience, not convenience; by integrity, not intemperance.

I’ll say it again. More likely than not, my disagreement is principled. Otherwise, it’s likely because of preference. For sure it isn’t personal — as in, disagreeing with you because it’s you. (Yes, I am human — I am not above failing to live up to these things.)

Please don’t diminish our relationship further by writing off my disagreement as personal. It isn’t about you!

Please don’t diminish my concerns and my perspectives by trying to make them about you. They aren’t! This isn’t personal.

I want an honest, open, Biblical discussion of principles, ideas, and perspectives. I do not want a clash of personalities. And I certainly am not interested in the dissing of people.

Pre-publication post title: Principled Disagreement

Comment? Sure!

Above all, love God!
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