Relational Wisdom

Relational Wisdom cover for post

Today we start a series of blogs on Proverbs. The book of proverbs is about wisdom for living, relating and walking with God.


If one gives an answer before he hears,

it is a folly and a shame. 

Proverbs 18:13

   One of the arts of Christian maturity is disciplining your mind. Our minds are filled with all kinds of thoughts: some good and some bad. We tend to think we are in control of our minds and emotions in a very rational way. Sometimes we are and sometimes we are not. 

Beneath the surface of our logic and emotions

lies a whole world of corruption. 

   Sin runs deep. Sin functions on the subconscious level where emotions, hidden motivations, fears, shame and guilt push things you might not be aware of to the surface. In the above Proverb, we are told that wisdom does not pursue narratives driven by the subconscious. Wisdom doesn’t pursue the collective projections that flow from a well-meaning conversation, that fills in the gaps with suspicion, between 3-4 people. 

   Over the years this has been a challenge in ministry for me. This dynamic often makes it impossible to make relational discipleship progress. It is not what is being said that is the issue, but it is often what is not being said. It is not the facts of events, but the emotional reinterpretation of the meaning of those events and the reframing of stories driven by insecurities and personal agendas.


  So what do we do to guard ourselves?

Here are 6 thoughts:

1. Recognize that you share this condition with the rest of humanity. This will establish reality and empathy in the situation. You won’t be able to go too far off the rails if you take this step.

2. Recognize that your first impressions of a situation may be wrong.Either you don’t have all the information, you have not heard all sides of a story, or you were biased for one reason or another.

3. Make it your disciplined choice to assume the best, refuse to assume the worst. Step away from powerful negative emotions and ask questions that seek information without a tinge of accusation.

4. Recognize that no matter how much you love a person they also are imperfect at interpreting events. Hear their side, but never be so naive to think you have the whole story. Most people don’t have the integrity or desire to give you a fair and balanced understanding of events especially when there are elements of pain or self interest.

5. Reconciliation and responsibility are required. Recognize that in conflict you will not get anywhere unless both parties want reconciliation and both are willing to take responsibility for some if not at least half of the relational damage.

6. Above all else let grace, mercy and forgiveness be the default. We all have bad moments we wish we could erase. Pardoning others is a sign of maturity. Not every conflict needs “justice” and very few will end in exact agreement.