A Faith that works when life doesn't Part 3, (Day 2)

 Seek to Understand Before Being Understood

When you’re in conflict, the loving and Christlike way to defuse tension is to seek to understand before being understood. Try to figure out what the other person is thinking and saying before you try to convince them of your perspective. You cannot hope to be understood until you are willing to do the same for others. 

The Bible says, “A person who answers without listening is foolish and disgraceful” (Proverbs 18:13 ICB). 

We are often so busy trying to get people to see things our way that we don’t stop to listen to what they are saying. 

That’s why it’s helpful to say, “You go first.” And then, after they’ve shared, say, “Now, let me see if I understand. You’re saying (repeat to them what you understood they were communicating to you). Did I get this right?” That gives them a chance to correct you and not only be understood by you but also feel understood. 

Seeking to understand first also allows you to see the other person’s perspective. Philippians 2:4-5 says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (NLT). 

Too often there are heated discussions around the best way to move forward after a conflict. Everyone has their own perspective, but it seems like no one is willing to see anyone else’s perspective. All we can see is our own side of things. 

If you’re not willing to seek to understand and acknowledge other perspectives, you won’t be able to see the hurt in other people. You won’t see their fear, their pain, or the injustice they’ve faced. 

That is not the way of Jesus Christ. He always looked beyond himself to the needs of others. Even on the cross, he was thinking of you. 

It’s not easy to think of others before yourself. It certainly isn’t natural. You are, by nature, a self-centered person. So am I! Left to my own devices, I will always choose to look out for myself before I look out for others. 

Only Jesus can change my perspective—and yours. Only Jesus can make you more interested in someone else’s interests than in your own. When you take on the character of Christ, the desire to understand before being understood becomes more natural. Only then can you begin to work through conflict in a Christ-like way.

Talk It Over

  • How do you want someone to respond when you are trying to get them to understand what you’re saying? Do you do the same for others?
  • Do you find yourself thinking about what you’re going to say next instead of truly listening to someone? Why can this be such a strong temptation?
  • If you truly care more about the person you’re talking to than getting your point across, how might you change the way you have conversations?

This devotional © 2021 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


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