Communicating your opinion in a way that counts
This is a followup to my post Unopinionated. In it, I wrestled with the danger and necessity of voicing your opinion about public issues as a leader. I wasn't referring to issues which are morally or biblically right or wrong but rather those issues that require vision, direction and wise counsel.
One of the precipitating concerns that I have about remaining silent is that our culture in general these days seems to promote those into positions of leadership - both private, corporate and public - who will respond only to opinion. Therefore, we have public opinion polls, popularity indices, etc. These only serve to force a person into nonleadership. He/she is responsive not to ideas and grand philosophies but to the whims of the uninformed, the unhappy, and the frustrated. We know deep down that it's better to prolong our immediate needs for longterm benefit, but these polls demand immediate satisfaction. We are victims of the cult of the now.
What about you? When you and the leaders - Christian or not - around you remain silent locally on issues that affect direction, well-being and reflect poor stewardship of community resources or tax income, you are not seeking the best for the community in which you live.
One of the problems with voicing your thoughts is that most decisions that are reached happen outside of your regular input or insight. You don't have the same amount of research and counsel that others have had access to in making community decisions. You hope that "the powers that be" have done their research and arrive at their conclusions after long, careful deliberation of known facts and issues. Occasionally, however, you sense that to not be the case.
When a decision is publicized that is contrary to public or private opinion, it's often confounding to reconcile known facts and experiences with the decision that has been reached. It's important to ask why, and to keep searching for answers to how the decision was made and upon what reasons the decision rests.
When you seek to please others by remaining silent in your communities, organizations, or churches, you do not help the overall health of the community. Choosing to get involved and voice your thoughts must be merged with the right channel of communication. You can't simply post your concern as a Facebook status or Tweet. There are proper channels for public discourse. A tweet has yet to change the world. But commitment, persistence and patient communication have regularly impacted the flow of societal events and ideology. In other words, the way you communicate matters.
It's vital as you do your fact-finding and voice your opinion, to do so with the right attitude and with a spirit of humility. You won't press your point far if you're divisive, vengeful or contentious in how you approach the situation. The Christian, in particular, has access to incredibly wise counsel through biblical teachings on this matter. Ephesians 4.15 urges one's attitude to be one of "speaking the truth in love." In Philippians 2.3, one is instructed to avoid anything that involves personal ambition and to practice putting others up instead of down.
You'll find you go farther in public discourse and influence when others sense you seek theirs and the public's good rather than simply tearing down what is (or isn't) in favor of the way you want it. Representing yourself, your organization, your family and your church well in public means that you must guard your heart, control your feelings, and practice humility.
Don't allow yourself or your leaders to be needlessly influenced by public opinion. Do what is right. When in doubt or in a difficult decision, seek wise counsel. Embrace personal and corporate humility. Choose proper channels of communication. And remember, pleasing people may not be what is ultimately best for them.