Opinionated or Pinheaded: Saving Relationships from our Opinions

I used to think having an opinion meant I was smart. I openly shared my opinions with those around me. I let my neighbor know her new curtains might not keep the cold air out in the winter. I informed a coworker the reason she was suffering longer with her cold was because she wasn’t taking enough zinc. I reminded my mother-in-law to purchase a fat free salad dressing because it would be much healthier. I even instructed my husband how he could have better loaded the dishwasher. It never occurred to me that I was hurting feelings, causing strife and wrecking my relationships. Like Job’s wife who was “Talking like a
fool” 2:10 I realized I was a well-meaning pinhead.
I had lost many relationships with good friends because I thought my opinion was important. I had to ask God for forgiveness and let him teach me when not to speak.
I thought that the Bible set the tone for giving opinions because Jesus gave advice all the time. What I didn’t realize was that his
instruction was from the Lord and he spoke in wisdom. Many times we can see that he didn’t speak up when most of us would
have. At the wedding feast, he just turned the water into wine after being told to do something. I probably would have had to
change all the appetizers to go with the wine and then the cake would have been all wrong, pretty soon I would be giving advice
on the whole affair. Jesus spoke the truth in love to people in order for them to be set free. His advice was not opinions but truth.
The 8th chapter of the book of Proverbs really gives us a call to wisdom. Part of that wisdom knows when to speak and
monitoring what comes out. In verse 6, wisdom is said to “have worthy things to say.” I had to ask myself, “Was what I had to
say worthy?” When I knew in my heart it was not, I always came back with a good reason why I still should give the opinion.
Remembering the scripture in Proverbs that defined wisdom, I had to mentally jump on that opinion and suppress it.
I have some easy questions for those who like me need help knowing when not to give an opinion. I ask myself these to see if
this opinion should even be expressed.
Will this opinion keep the person from harm? We all have our advice on what people should and shouldn’t do or eat based on
the latest news report or Internet search. But short of “I don’t think you should touch that exposed electrical wire” is any of it
going to really be helpful?
Will this opinion encourage the person? Most of us enjoy helping others. We want to give our advice to encourage them down
the right path. But is it really the “right path” when we tell someone they look better in green when they are wearing blue? I just
tell them that blue really brings out the color of their eyes and move on.
Will this opinion be truly insightful? I must admit I really have a knack for stating the obvious. Sometimes the obvious need
not be spoken. For instance if my coworker is having a bad hair day, do I really need to express my feelings on how she could have
worn her hair back instead of leaving the house looking that way?
Is this opinion just a way of looking intelligent? Sometimes when I am in a group of people that I feel a little intimidated with I want to come off as intelligent. I would do this by giving my opinion on subjects that I knew nothing about. “Oh your mom has canker sores? Well my father’s, neighbor’s mother had canker sores and she used to rub garlic on them, they completely disappeared in 3 days.” After the words left my lips I knew just how unintelligent I sounded.
Is this opinion just a way of saying “I told you so?” The course of my mind would run something like this, “I knew if she invested in that stock she would loose her money but did she listen to me, no. Now she wants me to just sit here and listen to her tail of woe. I think I need to take this opportunity to remind her of what I told her before she purchased that stock.” Then I realized it
was not my place to make her feel bad.
Is this opinion Biblically sound? Sometimes my advice was third party from someone from the Bible. I used to take information
out of context to suit my point. My favorite was using Psalms 92:6 (NIV) “The senseless man does not know, fools do not
understand,” to show others they were foolish not take my opinion. Then I read in Proverbs 10:14 (NIV) “Wise men store up
knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.” I was the fool, inviting ruin to my relationships.
Would this opinion be better off if they learned it for themselves? My husband has a hard time taking advice from me. I
don’t know if it is because I am female or if it is because he is male. I can tell him something I heard on Dr. Dobson’s radio
program and you can see my words go straight through one ear and out the other. He can listen to a repeat of the same program a
week later and now he has some new insight into some area. I learned to let him discover his own information and now we are much
happier.
Is this opinion one of many that can all work? When my daughter was a preschooler she was helping me with the laundry.
When separating the colors she put some not so whites in the whites and some darks in with the Brights. I made her change them
before washing. When we pulled them out of the dryer I showed her my way of folding the socks in half and she rolled them into a
ball. When folding the towels I like them folded in fourths and stacked neatly. She folded some in half and some in sixths and did
not stack them neatly. I had her redo them until they were “right.” Next time it was laundry day she didn’t want to help. I asked
her why not and she simply said, “I can’t do it right.” I realized that my way wasn’t the only way. I told her she could help me the
way she wanted to and we had a fun time mismatching colors, folding and stacking any which way, the stress was gone and she now
enjoys helping with the laundry.
Is my opinion right for them? When my son was two he had a real problem with hitting. A friend of mine had some seemingly
difficult advice on the matter since her son used to do the same thing. She said that every time he would hit she would put him in his
room and close the door and leave him there to think about his actions. I then tried her suggestion and it did not work. In fact he
became angrier and the hitting became worse. Well I took my son to the doctor and found he was cutting his two-year molars. I
figured out he didn’t feel good and when he started to act mean I should give him some pain reliever. It worked for him and he
would calm down. At first I let her advice make me feel like I was an incompetent mom but then I realized her advice was only right
for her.
Would I want to be given this opinion if I were in this situation? In my mid twenties with my first pregnancy I had a
miscarriage early on. Some of my well-meaning friends made comments such as, “This was probably for the best,” or “ You can
try again,” and even “It was the Lord’s will for you.” I learned first hand that there is a wrong time to give an opinion in the hopes of having something meaningful to say. I experienced such hurt from some of those comments I avoided those people for a long time. I would have rather had no opinion on this sensitive subject.
In his book Friendship Factor: How to Get Closer to the People You Care for, published by Augsburg Publishing House, Alan
Loy McGinnis talks about opinions. He says, “It is sometime the part of prudence as well as courtesy to keep our opinions to ourselves.” I wore myself out playing Holy Ghost JR. I often thought that my opinions were Spirit filled when I was actually ignoring the real Spirit of God who was pleading with me too shut-up. In the book of Proverbs I learned that although I might be full of knowledge that it took wisdom in knowing how to use it. Now I can actually sit and listen without having that ugly opinion minion trying to break rank on me.
Instead of sharing our opinions we should work on our listening skills. If we do our best to listen to others, our relationships will
mature into something more substantial. We need to provide eye contact, sustain it and suggest by posture or facial expression
that we are listening. When we do these things, others will want to listen to us and we will improve our communication skills.
Keeping quality relationships can be difficult. We don’t need to let our opinions come between them. When I turned my
pinheaded opinions over to the Lord I finally got results. 1 John 4:4-6 says: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome
them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak
from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but
whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (NIV) We need to be distinguishable from those who are of this world by what we say, how we act and the way we treat others. I learned that if the Lord has something truly worth my sharing, then he would also provide the perfect moment in which to share it.
Steps on being a good listener:
Don’t interrupt: This can make the person not want to finish.
Look at the speaker: This let’s them know we are listening.
Don’t rush the speaker: Be patient, they will finish.
Don’t finish the sentence for the speaker: There might be a different outcome.
Don’t try to top the story with one of your own: This belittles what was just said.

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