Not Looking For Agreement

Can you remember an argument you had where a person you were trying to correct refused to agree that they had done the thing you said they did? Even though there was no disputing the details?

I have. In one particular encounter, when it happened, it took me by surprise. So much so, the entire encounter changed the way I think. Here's why: It didn't matter how clear the situation was, he was not going to agree that he had done anything wrong. Then the unexpected happened!

Gently instruct those who oppose the truth.

Let's do this in story format for fun. The names and some details have been changed to protect... everybody! :-)

Jack And Tom

Jack was the manager of our team. One day a member, we'll call him Tom, was in a tough situation with a client where it was appropriate to refuse our services. It was a common practice to refuse service under these particular conditions. However, when Jack came over to back Tom, he put Tom in a terrible position.

Instead of confirming the denial of service, he assisted the client with their request and enforced their bad behavior. After Jack left, the client even began to mock Tom directly to his face. All Tom could do was endure the humiliation.

Jack, the manager, wasn't there for the mocking that Tom was forced to endure. To make matters worse, there were questionable legal factors to offering our services under the odd conditions as well. There were others on the team that witnessed Jack reversing the correct decision of Tom and now there was confusion as to when we could or couldn't offer our services.

This was a serious problem as a bad decision in these matters could put the business in jeopardy for breaking the law.

An Encounter With Jack

I approached Jack after the incident and indicated to him that what he had done was illegal and also confused the other team members on how to deal with this type of client request. I recommended that he apologize to Tom in front of the entire team and enforce the correct decision making in this type of situation.

It was unclear to me what kind of response I was going to get and I ended up with one I didn't anticipate at all.

Jack hardened his gaze on me, pointed his finger and said, "I am the manager and this is my department. I will run it however I chose to run it." I replied that, that may be true but I, again, highly recommend an apology and doing it in front of the team so theycan be reinforced in knowing the proper procedure.

Jack said he didn't have anything to apologize for and our meeting was over. I thought for sure my time had come and I would be let go the next day... but then something happened that I did not expect.

Surprise Ending

The next day, at our team's daily kick off meeting, things began as they normally would. However, before we started, Jack perused the room and noticed Tom was not present. Tom was finishing up some work and was not attending the meeting. Jack sent one of us to go get Tom and didn't want to start until we were all there.

When Tom arrived, Jack immediately starting describing the events that unfolded the day before. He let Tom know that he did the right thing and then proceeded to apologize for overriding Tom's decision to refuse service. Jack then assured the team that he will always back up anyone who makes the same decision.

Needless to say I was stunned. I thought, wow! What a break through! Then after the meeting do you know what Jack came over and said to me about the whole situation? Not one thing. He didn't say anything about ripping me in the office. Nothing about how he thought about it and changed his mind and appreciated me coming and talking it through with him. Nothing.

A New Way Of Thinking

As I mulled it over it occurred to me that I did not need to get credit for standing up for my teammate. I got the result I was looking for. I got the change in behavior. There was no reason to belabor the point or try to get credit.

So I decided to change my definition of a win in these cases. I decided to not look for agreement but to focus on a change in behavior. If I can get that, then I don't need the acknowledgement or accolades.

Again I say, don't get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 
Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people's hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil's trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. - 2 Timothy 2:23-26 NLT

Set Free

This revelation truly set me free in my relationships with God and people that I encounter. When I am delivering the Gospel, I am faced with disagreement, rejection or disinterest nearly every single time. At one point it was something that would drive me crazy.

I got so angry about it, I finally told the Lord, "I'm not going to try to get anyone born again, ever again." Then it dawned on me. Getting people born again was not my job. The Holy Spirit had that responsibility.

My responsibility was to be ready to give the Word. I am a planter. I am a waterer. God gives the increase. He produces the result.

What this did for me was to take the responsibility of getting agreement from folks, when I shared the Gospel, off of my shoulders. My job was to present the information. That's where I get my win. God takes it from there. The change in behavior was up to the other person and the Lord. I was free.

The Lesson

The lesson learned is that when we are engaging others in an encounter where we are correcting someone's behavior, debating a topic or persuading, we do not need to verbally wrestle them into agreeing. Many times, by being open, honest and sincere we can move a person to a change in behavior, all while they are disagreeing that there is any reason to do so. 


Take Action!

Do you look for agreement when trying to convince someone to change their behavior? 
It is rare that someone will agree. Yet, if you present a calm, thoughtful recap of one's undesirable behavior and describe appropriate behavior you may find they will change even after strongly disagreeing with you.
I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It's not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What's important is that God makes the seed grow. 
The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. - 1 Corinthians 3:6-8 NLT

Please, add your thoughts in the comment section.


Concept >>> “Do Not Look For Agreement”
Next >>> "Rethink It: Repentance Revisited"

In The Cool Zone concept. Think like Jesus thinks.


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