USA (MNN) — You’ve probably been to a handful of Christmas parties by now – one for work, perhaps; one for church, and maybe one for extended family. Holiday gatherings are great for catching up, but they can also lead to potentially-divisive conversations.
“Do not allow yourself to be dragged into the issues that are dividing and polarizing people,” Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries advises.
“Many of them are political, some of them are medical; these are things that have gotten larger than the importance of the relationship.”
Hutchcraft describes three ways to shift the focus from picking sides to following Jesus.
“The person matters so much more than their position. That’s where winning the heart instead of winning the argument becomes very important.”
Remember these keywords: pray, tone, focus
No matter the task, prayer is always the perfect place to begin. Use the prompts listed alongside this article to guide your intercession. Next, as you engage in conversation, remember to watch your tone.
“Someone has said that 80-percent of communication is tone. I could say the same thing to you with three different tones, and I could make you feel cared about, angry, [or] rejected,” Hutchcraft says. He encourages believers to follow the advice from Paul and Peter in Colossians 4:6 and 1 Peter 3:15.
“Decide that whatever you say is going to be seasoned with grace.”
No matter what “hot-button” topic comes up, let your tone be one of gentleness and respect.
“If you are a follower of Christ, how should a person feel when you have been with them? They should feel like they’ve been treated gently, and [with] respect – even though they might not agree with what you had to say,” Hutchcraft says.
“[In] a lot of our Christian communication out there, I don’t hear respect. I hear anger, pride, [and] judgment. Instead of looking for what you disagree on, look for common ground. Is there something you could affirm? It might be only 10-percent of what they said.”
Finally, “stay focused on being a peacemaker,” Hutchcraft suggests. “Romans 12 says, ‘as much as it is up to you, live at peace with everyone.”
Sometimes, keeping the peace is easier said than done. If pressed and you know your opinion would cause division, “just say, ‘You know, there are a lot of different views on that, and I just prefer not to join in that conversation,” Hutchcraft says.
“Tell your loved ones you pray about [these issues] because you know they’re important, but you value relationships too much to get involved in a lot of conversation about them.”
Looking for more? Download a free ebook from Ron Hutchcraft Ministries.
“One is called A Lifetime’s Not Enough. When it’s somebody you love, you want them to be with you and have eternal life,” Hutchcraft says.
Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Eugene Zhyvchik/Unsplash.