“The bigger they are” (2 of 2)

Although the subject of this week’s article is different, there is at least one parallel.  So let’s use the same the following discussion prompts as last week’s.

  • In Matthew 5:38-48, the Lord says that personal retaliation is counter to living God’s love with others.  According to the context and specifics of this passage, how might even greater service to demanding people result in greater praise to God and help to them?
  • The book of Proverbs refers to a “man of understanding” twelve times (Proverbs 1:5, 10:23, 11:12, 14:6, 14:33, 15:21, 17:10, 17:27, 17:28, 19:25, 20:5, and 28:2).  Discuss the themes the potentially destructive power of anger, the need to listen beyond surface issues to heart issues, and the call to be gentle and strong at the same time.
  • Read any of the following Psalms:  10, 22, 49, 44, 74, or 79.  How do each of these prayers that are sometimes angry toward God end?  Study the flow of each psalmist’s prayer and discuss how God’s willingness to hear even our foolish anger can result in our repentance, trust, and continued obedience.
  • Read James 4:1-12.  When we are being verbally attacked, what would our humility and grace look like?  How might we submit ourselves to God, resist the devil, and not judge our neighbor without avoiding them?

Now consider this week’s article.


Pope Francis won’t ‘make a judgment’ of Trump without ‘listening to him first’ 

“The Bigger They Are” (2 of 2), by Chaplain Jeff Dillard (23 May 2017)

“Religion and politics?!” I know. But my suggestions in last week’s article may have been too vague or startling. And some dynamics in this story were so similar, I want to attempt a helpful follow-up.

Two of the world’s biggest influences meet today. As if that weren’t news enough, to this point they have seemed to be at odds on almost everything. One thing encourages me: they share a strategy.

When President Trump has wanted someone on his side, he’s often been the epitome of openness and future-focus. Anthony Faiola and Julie Zauzmer of the Washington Post report that Pope Francis shares those values. At a minimum, both men want to talk today in ways that lead to future talks.

“Always, there are doors that are not closed,” (Pope Francis) said. “Look for the doors that are at least a little bit open, enter and talk about common things and go on.” Marco Politi, author of “Pope Francis Among the Wolves: The Inside Story of a Revolution” added “The Vatican is just concentrating to see how and if there will even be a final communique,” he said. “For me, this meeting is only the beginning of what is becoming a difficult and complex relationship between the Holy See and the American presidency.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pope-francis-tries-to-leave-door-open-ahead-of-landmark-meeting-with-trump/2017/05/22/d258db78-3b16-11e7-a59b-26e0451a96fd_story.html?utm_term=.b60ba3363e3a. Remember last week’s talk of momentum?

In backyard football, we might make some progress for our team by “clothes-lining” an opponent’s assault. That doesn’t work if we want to be on the same team in the future. We have to stay open until they finally make their point, even if we are feeling (metaphorically) beaten up in the process.

Why would we do that? Because we won’t know if we can or should team with them until they make their bottom line point. The following are a few ways I’ve helped others to speak from their heart.

  • Listen and watch for even a small statement that’s emotional for them, then repeat it back to them without any judgment or question to encourage them to elaborate. E.g., “You said, ‘I don’t care.’”
  • Using open body language and a soft tone, say “I’d like to hear more about that”, and just listen.
  • Depending on their emotion, gently ask “What would be the worst (or best) part of that for you?”
  • Then paraphrase what you hear as their bottom line point and ask, “Is that what you’re saying?”


If you’d like to read other articles from this series on current events, you can click here.

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If you’d like to know more about who publishes the articles, videos, and other materials on tools4trenches, you can click on the picture of me and my wife.


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