We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine

Swallowing Pride

One evening I shared something with my wife that had been bothering me. As she responded defensively, my first reaction was to defend my position with a gentle rebuke. My rebuke, however, added more fuel to the fire, and it was evident that we would not be going to dinner as planned.

My mind raced for a contingency plan. I had two choices: I could hold on and not cave in, taking a stand that what I had said was in the right spirit and that she needed to hear it, or I could seek first to understand before being understood. As I look back on my marriage, I realize that if I had sought to understand before being understood, I would have prevented years of conflict. Unfortunately, I was too proud to admit wrong. Proverbs 13:10a states that “Only by pride cometh contention . . . .” Conflicts are the result of pride.

As I decided which approach to take, my heart was open enough to seek first to understand. Even though I believed that I was not at fault, I calmly asked if my words were offensive and how I could have approached this differently. Almost immediately, reconciliation was taking root. Deb’s account of what I had said and how I had said it was very different from my perspective. She explained how I could have handled this situation in a gentler, non-threatening manner.

At this stage there was only one thing left to do. Admit wrong, tenderly apologize for the hurt that I caused, and cautiously ask if she still would like to go to dinner!

Seeking first to understand and then being understood is a vital link to restored relationships. The results are definitely worth the price of swallowing pride. Oh, by the way, we had a wonderful evening–I ordered a salmon salad and Deb had broiled haddock!

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).

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