Influenced at Twenty-one. Still Grateful

October 21, 2020

By Phil Ransom

Emotions sometimes sneak up behind me when I’m writing.  It happened again this week. Writing the junk-draft of a chapter in my book Influenced! (Everything I write begins in junk-draft mode.)  I remembered and relived an influencing incident from when I was twenty-one.

Brand new to a pastoral staff of three, our Senior led us through an exercise with skill and gentleness. We were given two weeks to individually prepare how we would explain our positions on a potentially divisive topic. Then in a designated staff meeting we presented our views, and guided by the Sr., asked questions of each other to come to understand how we reached our conclusions, even though we may not agree.  And we didn’t.

One topic, three viewpoints

One topic.
Three men.
Three views, three sets of convictions, three distinct takes on how it would affect the teams we lead.
Three colleagues, each understanding as best they could,
resolved to treat each others’ views with respect.

After the meeting we intentionally set the morning’s topic aside and went for lunch.  Our friendship grew.

I came away from that experience with an axiom I have quietly repeated to myself for over 40 years.  I’ve taught it to anyone who will slow down long enough to hear it, including my children when they were teens.

“It’s more important that I learn how you came to your conclusion
or arrived at your position
than it is that I agree with you.”

Gratitude welled up within me as I wrote, then overflowed. Grateful tears are the best kind, in my opinion. What a valuable life lesson he brought to center-stage that morning!  Our respect for each other deepened that day. We served well together for seven productive years.

How we need that value today:
It’s more important that I learn how you came to your conclusion or arrived at your position than it is that I agree with you.

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