Hello everyone and welcome to today’s episode where today we talk about relationships during elections, and how we can better care for each other during them. We’re doing so at the suggestion of a listener from Pennsylvania.
There’s something about elections that stirs up emotion in people. And it’s not just in Pennsylvania. It’s the rest of the world, too.
A recent election in Kyrgyzstan, for example, prompted a large page-1 photo in the Wall Street Journal. Its caption: “Vote Dispute Plunges Kyrgyzstan into Chaos.”
Expressions of political preferences polarize people. They harm relationships. They divide people more than they bring us together. A recent Facebook post describes it well:
“I think my church friends have forgotten about Jesus! It seems to be all about politics. I liked my church friends better when I didn't know where they stood politically.”
And in the same thread, someone else wrote….
“I think it is good for us in the church to talk about politics. What I lament is that people take disagreement too personally and don’t know how to have a civil conversation about politics, or they see the goal of political conversation as being to win a debate rather than have a discussion to grow in understanding and think deeply in ways we haven’t before. “
I disagree with the first sentence, but I'm all for what's described after it.
How can we nurture our relationships during elections?
What's behind all the discord?
Fear and distrust are the 2 prime emotions on display during this election season.
Political discussions and elections are about preferences.
To discuss the election it’s important to ask yourself if you have built up enough “relational capital” with someone that it can weather political differences?
Political agreement never deepens a relationship. There are too many other variables that do. Focus on those instead. And don’t assume if people are silent that they agree with your political views.
The closer and deeper the relationship, the less threatening election discussions are. The more distant the relationship, the greater the possibility of damaging that relationship.
You don’t have to share every political opinion you have with people. I think it’s better not to tip your hand, to keep people guessing. It’s less risky that way.
The relationship is more important than determining who is right or wrong in a political debate.
Ask ourselves, will discussing the election hinder or enhance our relationship with the other person?
Listen well. Ask people how they came to believe in their political position. Recognize the possibility you may be wrong on an issue
Don’t be intense, one way or the other. Intensity of feelings rarely wins you any friends.
Stay off social media and cable news. They re-traumatize people
Avoid posting political preferences on Facebook, if you care about your relationships. Don’t tip your hand. Keep people guessing.
Empathize with others, realize their fear, and don’t contribute to it. Focus on common ground and what you agree on.
If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode.
Our relationships are more important than elections, which come and go. But relationships, when nurtured well, can last the rest of our life.
Here’s what you can do in response to today’s show.
If your guy wins, don’t gloat. Don’t rejoice. It’s not going to be nearly as good as you think. Be kind. Extend grace. Be gentle. Your relationship with the person who backed the loser is more important than any election.
If your guy loses, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t sulk, whine, or otherwise complain. The sun will come up tomorrow. Acknowledge your sadness and fear. But it’s not going to be as bad as you think. Your relationship with the person who backed the winner is more important than any election.
We’ve had really bad leaders in the past and we’ll survive this one, too should the other guy have won.
And above all, remember God is in control of who our leaders are. Romans 13:1 tells us that people in positions of authority have been placed there by God.
As always, another thing you could do is let me and your fellow listeners know what resonated with you about today’s episode. You can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes. Or you can send them to me in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Now for Our Relationship Quote of the Week
From the Bible, Philippians 4:8
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Election season never falls into any of these categories.
That’s all for today. See you next week. Goodbye for now.
You Were Made for This is sponsored by Caring for Others, a missionary Care ministry.