At some point in your relationship with another person, politics will come up, even if you’ve tried to avoid it in the interest of building a friendship. If you’re following the WinSome approach, you have nothing to worry about.
When you really believe what you believe, then talking about it with gentleness and respect is just who you are. When you’re comfortable in your skin like that…
- It’s a natural outflow of your personality and your principles.
- You don’t get flustered or frustrated.
- You don’t expect everyone to agree with you, so you’re not defensive when they don’t.
The best exemplar of this attitude who I know personally is my daughter, Haleigh. She’s a missionary in a jungle village in South America. As I write this, she’s preparing to leave for the jungle through a combination of training, and by visiting churches to tell folks where she’s headed. She invites them to pray for her and to support her mission financially. Haleigh is unflinching when sharing the gospel of Jesus with people in the jungle or stateside. She’s the same way when inviting people to participate financially in her adventure. She’s enthusiastic and joyful, and unfazed at rejection. That’s because she knows she’s on the right path, and she need not worry about the ups and downs. You can write a check to the missions agency through which she serves, or you can tell her you don’t have time to listen to her. She welcomes both reactions as God’s will at the moment, and she moves on.
Reminds me of a quote from Jeremiah Burroughs, way back in 1648: “The circumstances that I am in, God has put me into by his own counsel, the counsel of his own will. Now I must serve God’s counsel in my generation…” [‘The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment’, Banner of Truth Trust, 2005, p. 53]
Even if you don’t yet believe in God, this attitude can carry you far. Just be yourself. Don’t worry about your situation. Do what’s right as you understand it. And let the insults roll off you. Keep calm and carry on.
In 2009, I ran for political office for the first time. It’s an awkward experience in many ways, particularly when it comes to fundraising. I often hesitated to ask someone for what I considered a large sum of money. Perhaps you’re comfortable asking someone to write a check for $5,000 or $10,000, but it was new to me. I was extremely uncomfortable, and it showed.
Eventually, however, I realized something: I’m not asking people for money. I’m giving them a way to express their views, and to influence policy in their community. To them, writing a check is easier, and preferable to what I was doing. They don’t want to run for, or serve in, public office. But a campaign contribution is a way they can serve. They’re happy to do so.
As a result, my asking-for-money approach became much more relaxed. I could be myself. After that moment of enlightenment, I had no qualms about asking someone to write a $10,000 check if they believed in our cause. If they refused, I’d thank them and move on — unfazed by their rejection.
You see, running for office to advance my vision of reforming governance was a natural outflow of my principles. Raising money to campaign is a natural part of the electoral process. So, I could just be myself, and enjoy the process.
When you endeavor to persuade others of your beliefs, it’s not about you. It’s about making life better for that person, and improving our country and our world. Relax and be yourself.
I’m not asking WinSome practitioners to stop believing what you believe, and instead make friends by concealing who you are. The whole purpose of this WinSome process is to win some to your worldview, by being winsome. The toughest part is growing in maturity, grace and love. But as you do that, you’ll find that you can speak boldly, but graciously, about your beliefs without offending anyone — not even your most vocal opponent.
However, if you leap into such discussions before your heart starts changing, you’ll find, much to your dismay, that the conversation will be about you and your demeanor, rather than about the ideas and ideals that you value. My daughter can speak to an atheist, or to a devotee of another faith, in a way that wins friends, and even garners donations to her mission. That’s because she’s being herself, and she’s being transformed day-by-day into the image of the Jesus she loves. She’s not perfect. She does get angry, like me and you. But more often than not, she rests in the calm confidence of her beliefs and moves forward with joy.
“Quietly delight in the confidence that comes from having found truth in your own life.”
— Bob Goff, ‘Everybody Always’, 2018, p. 113
That’s what I pray happens for you on this WinSome journey. I hope you become so comfortable with making friends, with listening to learn and to earn respect, that when you do talk about your political views, it will feel totally natural to you, and to the person with whom you speak.