We live in an age of almost infinite information. Because of that, we live in a society full of experts, and we’re constantly surrounded by opinions.
But should you voice your opinions? Helpful opinions are desperately needed, but how do you know when it’s the right time to share yours?
The Bible says there’s a season for everything that we do. There’s a time to fight and a time for peace. Knowing what the time calls for is one of the most important aspects of life, because doing things out of season causes tremendous problems. Imagine planting a seed too late or trying to harvest a crop too early. The item at hand loses its value because it’s being handled inappropriately and out of season.
So that’s why it’s so important to understand when we should voice our opinions and when we shouldn’t. Here’s are 3 things to consider to help you determine if you should share your opinion:
#1: Do you really know what the opposite opinion is based on?
Imagine walking up to a box sitting on the ground. From a distance, you can see that the side facing you is blue. As you get closer, you start to see that the sides and top are also blue. Then you walk to the other side of the box to see what color it is, and it’s also blue.
If someone walked up to you and asked you what color the box is, you would probably say blue.
Now imagine this person flipping the box up and showing you that the bottom is red. Of course, you couldn’t see that, even in doing your due diligence and walking around the box.
There are some things we just can’t see about situations at first glance. Sometimes we have to take more time and have more patience than we’re comfortable with in order to truly understand where someone is coming from.
But if you’re not going to take the time to see every side, then your opinion is probably being voiced to make yourself feel better, not to help others.
#2: Will arguing my viewpoint help benefit the other person?
Ask yourself, “Am I voicing my opinion in order to be right, or do I genuinely want to help someone?” Ranting on Facebook about how much you hate something or someone isn’t going to help. It’s only going to stir up more empty conflict.
If, however, you decided to send a direct message to someone who you think is doing something harmful to themselves or others, then that’s a situation where voicing your opinion is more likely to be helpful. If you can’t honestly see how your actions and words will directly help someone and encourage a positive resolution to a problem, then you’re probably better off not saying it.
#3: How emotional am I?
Even if you’ve decided that what you have to say will be beneficial to someone, there’s still a right and proper time to say the right things. The right thing said in the wrong way is still wrong. You can be 100% right, but if your emotions are high and your delivery is skewed by that emotion, the truth being communicated won’t be conveyed.
We have an obligation to serve one another, and one of the best ways we serve one another is by speaking the truth in love. But often we get caught up in just speaking the truth and we forget about the “in love” part. When in reality, communicating truth that’s helpful in a way that can be received is one of the most loving things we can do.
#4: How dedicated am I to my viewpoint?
More often than not, when we argue, we’re mostly just looking to force our opinion on someone else and justify our own viewpoints. But that’s not helpful and it doesn’t serve anyone but ourselves.
Before you go into a conversation, zoom out and give yourself the gift of perspective. Notice how committed you are to your viewpoint and pay close attention to what is backing up that level of commitment. If you’re committed to it for good reasons, then by all means, stick to your guns. But if you’re committed to it because that’s what you’ve always known or because that’s what makes you comfortable, then the most effective thing to do is to open our minds enough to actually hear the other person out. After all, isn’t that what we’re expecting them to do for us?
The truth is, not every battle is worth fighting. But some are. In fact, there are people in the world right now who are lacking the truth you know and they need your arguments just like you need theirs. But if we avoid arguments altogether and shy away from conflict, then the world and the people we’re here to serve go without the truth they badly need.
So if we’ll take a step back and look at our hearts honestly to determine if our aim is to help and build up, we’re not too caught up in our emotions, and we’re not overly committed to being right, then we stand to engage the culture around us in a way that has a lasting positive impact. And it’s our job to step into that.