Leading and Relating Across Differences
By Paul Matsushima | Published on October 14, 2020
In anticipation to the 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections, let us not retreat to our echo chambers or jump straight to arguing. Instead, let’s stay connected to each other, listening to different perspectives, and respecting each other’s beliefs.
This article was originally written for the Faith.Work.Leadership newsletter of Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership.
We are a couple of weeks away from the U.S. presidential election, an event many are calling perhaps the most important election ever. This is a time when people must weigh decisions, cast ballots, and ultimately choose leaders they believe offer the best vision and solutions for the nation. It forces all of us to consider what we believe and who we align ourselves with. And for us Christians, we who are called to love our neighbors—both within and outside the church—we must ask ourselves: how do we relate to one another and lead across differences, especially when those differences are about some of our deepest held beliefs?
How do we relate to one another and lead across differences, especially when those differences are about some of our deepest held beliefs?
While the answers to this question are probably endless, we at the De Pree Center hope to offer some guidance. Below you will find some helpful resources. First is Mark Roberts’ newest devotional guide: Leading and Following Together. This five-part devotional guide based on Ephesians 5 asks, “how can we mutually submit to each other, and share our leadership and followership?” Also included is a podcast episode of Making it Work with soul food scholar Adrian Miller, who discusses reconciliation and bridging our political, racial, and religious differences through food.
How can you demonstrate love to someone you disagree with, by moving as close as possible to them without violating their dignity and personhood?
I’d also personally like to offer a quote I learned from David Augsburger, Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Fuller Seminary: “To love is to move as close to the other as is possible without violating the other’s dignity and personhood.” In the midst of political polarization, I take this as a lesson to stay connected and in relationship with those I disagree with by both listening to and seeking to understand them. Let’s not retreat to our echo chambers or jump straight to arguing. Instead, let’s stay connected to each other, listening to different perspectives, respecting each other’s beliefs. At the same, time, let’s be true to what we believe by sharing our values. Today, consider: how can you demonstrate love to someone you disagree with, by moving as close as possible to them without violating their dignity and personhood? How can you lead and follow? How can you be a part of bridging differences?