I like to kid around. No, really. I also enjoy a respectful discussion of topics that people care deeply about (debate, not so much, but discussion, yes). In both kidding and in serious discussion there is a mutation that can take place in the midst of such discussions that becomes less enjoyable as I age. It’s that point where the discussion becomes more about getting the last word rather than about discussing, and through that discussion, arriving at truth (or at least getting to a waypoint on the road to truth closer than when the conversation began). When this happens when we are kidding, it can be harmless fun, but when we are no longer able to have a serious discussion because even those turn into a contest of getting in the last word, it all just becomes tedious, doesn’t it? I know, because I have been on both sides of that discussion/mutation. I imagine that pretty much all of us have (well, not my wife, she gets no enjoyment out of that at all and just goes back to Sudoku…probably quite wise, that).
It would not take a genius to see what that’s all about, would it? It can be rooted in a competitive spirit, or in pride, or in simply enjoying a good sparring match and loosing sight of the nobler purpose of the conversation. Whether it is any or all of the above, or some unmentioned motivation, it all points to a need now and then for us to maybe take a breath and remember that the majority our conversation is not a competition, and not a game. Conversations about our deeply held convictions of matters of faith shouldn’t become competitive sport. That is why debates are so poorly attended these days.
As I thought about this post this afternoon, I thought of Bill O’Reilly’s show. You may not agree with him on his politics, and that’s not why I bring him up. Rather, I want to point to something he does in his interviews, and challenge myself and you to consider trying it out. Even when he interviews someone who disagrees with him on every point–they could be arguing the sky is down and ground is up–he ends the interview with, “I’ll let you have the last word.” That got me to wondering, how different would a week go if we did that? Not necessarily verbalizing it, but actually letting people get the last word. Would that be difficult? Would it require a humbling? Would it require an increase in self-control (a fruit of the Spirit)? It just might. My guess is that it is probably harder than it sounds or we would all do it more often.
So what do you think? Do you want the last word, or would you like to let someone else have it?
Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
1st Timothy 4:12, NASB