For hundreds of years (maybe more) our thinking brains have been the driver behind decision-making; rational thought has been the primary means of communication through the sharing of ideas; responding to those ideas by judging their veracity and logic has been the usual method for conveying that the listener has accurately heard and understood. I know this realm well as this is how I process and communicate the vast majority of the time. So for me, it is hard to imagine another way of communicating. But there have probably been many times I have slowed progress or missed an opportunity for a breakthrough by staying in this logical, rational, thinking way of expressing myself and approaching others. It has been said that the most difficult journey to travel in an emotionally charged environment where two or more people don’t see eye to eye is the eighteen inches from one’s own head to one’s own heart.
So imagine being faced with a challenging situation in which 1) there is no easily discernible path forward and 2) differing views on which path to commit to are tightly held by various groups of people in which 3) choosing any one path will mean certain loss (and pain) for the other groups. How does a body/organization/ family make progress in such situations? It’s enough to be completely debilitated.
Within the KLC Leadership competency of Intervene Skillfully lies the subpoint Speak from the heart. If I choose to move past ideas and strategies and begin to share about the values I hold, I have moved into the realm of speaking from the heart. For me this feels super vulnerable. It’s one thing if you don’t agree with my idea or my perspective on a challenge; but if I share what I value and you reject that...oh boy, that’s painful.
Thankfully, most people aren’t that ‘heartless’ and will be open to listening to another’s values even if we disagree on methodology. In fact, values held by different factions are often very similar, especially within the church! One way to connect over values is to share a story of something meaningful or impactful to you.
This is the situation in which Peter found himself in Acts 11 after having an experience that included a vision, a centurion, and the outpouring of the holy spirit in an unexpected circumstance. As expected, Peter was criticized by those in his church. Rather than argue theological points, though, Peter shared a story; a story that had dramatically impacted him and gave the others in the church a chance to see that their values were all still aligned.
So don’t be surprised when, in a situation as described earlier, you take the risk of speaking from the heart and you find common ground with those who had been opposing you, which might lead to a new and unexpected path forward together.