EP 156 – LISTENING TO PEOPLE YOU DON’T AGREE WITH
The bootcamp boys are back at it and this time talking about why it’s important to listen to people you may not agree with. Sit back, dial in and consider how you might stay faithful to scripture, challenged and learn a few things from those with whom you might have differing views.
Listen to and learn from people you don’t 100% agree with
1. You need to avoid living in an echo chamber – It will challenge your thinking
Learn how to eat the meat and spit out the bones
2. You can’t truly teach against something you don’t really understand
Daniel Dennett’s advice on this (from his 2013 work Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking): “You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, ‘Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
By restating someone’s arguments accurately you can honor them and show them respect without affirming or agreeing with them. Then they might actually listen to and want to fully understand your perspective
3. It will help you fall more in love with truth
4. It will give you a deeper understanding of what you believe and why
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JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the bootcamp, Bob. I hope you’re ready for the next episode. I just finished spending a couple good days with our good friend, happy huggy Hallock down here in Jacksonville, Florida. And here’s what I tell you was exciting for me was, the last time he was here, I exposed him and we talked about it on the podcast, to BR pudding.
had bread, not only had he never had bread pudding, he had never heard of bread pudding. And that’s when we discovered the issue. To one who has never heard of bread pudding, there’s really no way to describe what bread pudding is and make it sound appetizing. Like if you describe the ingredients, it sounds less appetizing.
like in the process you say, okay, take some stale bread and you soak it in a custard and, and then you cook it and put some ice cream on it. And the only thing about that, that sounds advertising is the ice.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I would agree. The first time I ever heard about bread pudding, bread is a delivery. [00:01:00] Uh, device for me, Jimbo.
JimBo Stewart: Mm-hmm
Bob Bickford: there are some good breads that, like, I know we, we recently went to Papa do, of turning this into a food episode right from the start here, but hold on. Boot campers.
Papa do, for instance, we went there, the beginning of August and men had a nice crunch, crunchy bread. Is that a baguette? I guess maybe something like that. I don’t, I don’t know, but it was,
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. The baguettes, like the long slender, this real crisp. Yeah,
Bob Bickford: You want crunch? You want to crunch on the outside and you want soft on the inside. Right? So,
JimBo Stewart: that’s correct. Yeah.
be able slap it. And there’s a certain sound you’re looking for when you slap it.
Bob Bickford: okay. All
JimBo Stewart: truth. That’s how, you know, if a, if a French bag is good, that you can slap it. And there’s a certain hollow sounding sound that you can get out of
Bob Bickford: Well, all right. There’s so you learn something every day on the bootcamp, something in addition to replanting. And revitalization, but all that to say, I greet you. Bread bread for me is primarily a [00:02:00] delivery device. I just don’t go seeking it out, going, just need some bread right now. Not me.
JimBo Stewart: Now I made do some homemade bread and brought it to you one time. What were your on the FHA bread and the haka rolls?
Bob Bickford: Yeah, it was really good. Um, and, and, uh, heated him up a little bit, put some butter on him and, and really enjoyed him. So I I’m grateful for, for you me some.
JimBo Stewart: There we go, well, look, not only should we be willing to explore foods we’ve never heard of, and that don’t sound appetizing when someone we love and trust tells us that it’s good, but. Halek asked for more this time. And he, he said, he for sure, wanted more bread pudding while he is here, but he wouldn’t have experienced the joy of bread pudding.
Had he not been willing to do that? And Bob, I think this is what I want to talk about today. Not bread pudding, but how do you, or should you let’s first answer the question? Should you be willing to listen, to and learn to people that you don’t 100% agree? What are your thoughts?
Bob Bickford: [00:03:00] Everybody except for an Alabama football fan.
JimBo Stewart: Amen. I have a few, I have a few Alabama football fan friends. We even have some that listen to the bootcamp that I love because of the grace of Jesus Christ.
Bob Bickford: Yes, there you go. So, yeah, Jimbo, I, you know, joking on saying that I know we’ll get some, uh, Bama haters on here since you’re, you’re an LSU fan and I’m a Razorback fan. So, uh, no hate from the, no hate intended to the Bama fans. But yeah, I mean, you, you’ve gotta be able to listen. For somebody, for truth, from a bunch of different sources the sense of what might be helpful.
I think there’s levels of like practical truth, organizational truths, you know, theological truth. We obviously, we obviously wanna be more guarded in that. I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about, but we’re talking about, can you, if you right, can we listen to others understand one where they’re coming from?
And then two is what they’re saying? Does it have a point to it? and is it a valid.
JimBo Stewart: See, I would even say to a [00:04:00] degree we can listen to and learn from people who we don’t agree with 100% even theologically. Right. I mean, outside of the Bible, I don’t know that I’ve ever read anybody. I’ve agreed. 100% with theologically, you know, I, I love CS Lewis. I, I love the way he thinks I love the way CS Lewis writes.
but there are definitely some things about, scripture and Trinity that I, I don’t agree. And I wouldn’t use CS Lewis to teach and illustrate certain things because of ways that I disagree, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t still highly value something like mere Christianity and so much of that that is so rich and, and beautiful.
And so I, I mean, I. Always with your, always with the. Testing it through scripture. Right. And, always knowing that scripture is the filter and the guide. But I have sense. I don’t know if you have Bob, but as I’ve had conversations with a lot of people, there seems to be a growing unwillingness to listen to, [00:05:00] or read people that are outside of like your camp.
Like people are more and more, it feels like putting themselves kind of in theological or even. Ecclesiological camps and then they kind of go, oh, well, and I can’t, I can’t listen to that guy cuz we disagree on this thing. Right. This, and so we, we kind of go, well, we can’t, can’t read that guy. Can’t listen to that guy.
Cuz do you know what he believes about such and such? Well done? Can’t learn from and I don’t know. I think there’s, I think there’s something dangerous about that approach and I think there’s something. Really important about being willing to learn from people and, and just having that skill of how do you learn from people that you don’t 100% agree with?
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I think, so this, this reminds me of the episodes we did on leadership, judo. When somebody’s coming at you with an idea or a thought or,
some kind of design You’re trying to, to determine, [00:06:00] is this, are they trying to attack me or is this is harm gonna be harmful to me? Or can I, can I receive this and guide it to a place where, where I can not be damaged by it?
And maybe in the same way, there’s, of a philosophical judo we need to be able to do to hear somebody’s argument and get at the root of it. And I, I remember this reminds me of a, a seminary class that I had. With a professor named mark divine. And that’s one of things he said is he, we’ve gotta be able to listen to others’ ideas thoughts and perspectives in order to really understand not only what we believe, what we might also, we might need to respond.
know we’ve done some preliminary outline stuff, so I don’t wanna jump ahead. So I’ll let you unpack it.
But, uh, I, think one of the things, that’s important is is you really until you can argue a position from another person’s perspective that you disagree with, you might not fully understand their perspective.
Uh, and this is a hard one for me because. [00:07:00] I think a lot of us put our passion and our emotion behind our arguments, an argument in the right, in the, in stated in this way, an argument for something in favor of something, not just an argument that I were fighting over, who has the best. Chicken sandwich Popeye’s are Chick-fil-A right.
You know but it’s what are they saying? Yeah. Pop that’s easy. Yeah. Popeye’s what are they saying? And do I really understand it from all, all the facets? And could I even argue the merits of their point, even though I may not disagree. I may disagree with it.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think it’s one of the reasons I love that my kids in the homeschool co-op that we participate in. They, they eventually have to learn Lincoln Douglas. and, uh, I did some of that in college. I was on the forensic team, some doing Lincoln Douglas debate. And I mean, it was one of the skills that we have to learn is how to be able to understand the oppositions argument.
And, I read a quote recently by a guy named Daniel Deni that said, [00:08:00] You should attempt to re-express your Target’s position. So clearly vividly and fairly that your target says, thanks. I wish I thought of putting it that way. I mean, I mean, really, and I I’ve even heard, Tim Keller say that, you know, you should be able to understand the world, you know, other’s perspectives on something that you can restate it almost better than they can, to where they hear that.
And they say, and they think, yeah, you have accurately represented what I believe really only at that point. Can you start to possibly one, make a, make a difference in their life and make an argument. and I don’t mean argument, like you were saying, like in the volatile sense, but like a, a discussion, the other direction, but also I think this is what I’ve experienced when you restate someone’s argument.
So accurately that they agree with it. And it’s so important to be able to do that when you honor. [00:09:00]
You honor them and you respect them without affirming them. So you’re not saying, I agree with you. You’re saying, Hey, Bob, wouldn’t you say that here? What I hear you say is, and then I restate your, the thing that you have argued and if you go, yeah, that’s, that’s what I mean.
Now we can actually engage the topic. But really until we come to that point, that we both understand, I mean really ti understand what you’re trying to say to me. I can’t really engage. And this is what I see so often, is we assume not only do we assume we understand what they mean, we caricature it into the worst possible lens and an angle.
And we just come at ’em with like, oh, so you, and then we throw this. Wild straw man argument at them. And, and then all of a sudden we just start arguing about that. And, and here’s, here’s the thing. I think one that displays arrogance. It, it is, is a lack of humility. it doesn’t [00:10:00] honor anyone, and it’s not gonna accomplish anything.
Like, do you actually want to see someone’s perspective change? and if you do. have to understand what their actual perspective is, or you can’t help them change it.
Bob Bickford: You’re right. Assumption of motive and intent really shut down a conversation. and so I think instead of saying, so what you’re saying is, and then fill in your assessment. You might need to change your language to say, I just want to be sure that I’m hearing you correctly, I’m understanding your point it’s and then you explain in your words, what you’ve
JimBo Stewart: mm-hmm
Bob Bickford: I think that invites them to, to be the final verifier or. disqualify of what you just said. Right? So here’s what I heard you say. Did I understand you accurately? Well, yes or no. Right. So that invites PE two people to come together a conversation rather than to assume a motive and, and kind of, well, here’s what I think you’re [00:11:00] all about.
And here’s. who, who here’s, where I think this is coming from, you just want to fill in the blank, whatever gonna shut somebody down. and so I I’m, as I’m thinking and processing this, I’m thinking, okay, this is, this is, a necessary approach with people who are, not Christians and who you’re seeking to share the gospel with.
This is also a. some sort of, this is a, a skill that you need to develop with adversaries or people who are becoming adversaries in the church, right.
Because they have, talk about the conflict is probably higher inside the church than it is with a non-Christian outside the church. I would imagine the
and the intensity level.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
I think especially when it comes to conflict within the church to, to listen, listen for the purpose of understanding, not responding, and, and here’s the thing, like we said, one, you, you can’t actually engage the topic until you understand, and you have a, an understanding of where you’re coming from.
two, you get to honor that person without affirming their beliefs and [00:12:00] respect them. And then three, because you’ve honored them and treated them respectively respectfully, and with integrity, they might actually be open to listening and wanting to fully understand what you have to say. and then, and, and you’ve set ground at that point.
When they maybe do misunderstand your perspective to say, Hey, just like earlier, I wanted to make sure I clearly understood you the way you’re responding to what I said. I’m not sure that you have a clear I’m I’m not being as clear as I want to be. So let, let me attempt to be clear in my perspective, and because you’ve honored them in, in working through their perspective, they’ll probably, hopefully if they have some emotional maturity honor, your opportunity to clarify your perspective.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I think so. that’s really what we’re trying to do is establish some common ground for understanding, and we might learn something along the way. Again, you wanna line up all of the categories that this kind of skill or this kind of, response would be, [00:13:00] helpful in, talked about in terms of leadership organization, you know, organizational health perspective, Personal relationships, you know, all number of different things.
You, don’t own the corner of truth on all of those things, right? And, and particularly your personality. This reminds me of, of going back to even some of the, the podcasts we’ve done with Les McEwen, a visionary is gonna see something completely different than a processor,
JimBo Stewart: Mm-hmm
Bob Bickford: typically the most, difficult two personalities to, to, work together, close in an organization.
But. Personalities, both leadership styles are absolutely necessary. And so two would really need to, master this ability to look at an issue from both sides.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. And you, you referenced earlier the leadership judo series we did, in my opinion, that’s one of the best running series we’ve done on our podcast. And so bootcamper, man, I’d encourage you go to replant bootcamp.com, go to the search bar, just type in judo and only there’s only a few [00:14:00] episodes that would come up with judo in the word, in the word search.
and it really, I’ve shared that series with so many because. I think it was, it was a very helpful way to approach things. I wanna shift gears a little bit, cuz it’s, I’m not only talking about things that are adversarial. I think this is a very important skill on things that are adversarial.
but even beyond that, like I was referencing with CS Lewis. we get ourselves sometimes as believers into these theological or ecclesiological kind of camps and. I’m reformed or I’m not reformed or, you know, I’m whatever camp. And so we only wanna listen to people that are kind of in that group, in that camp.
and I think we have to be careful to not put ourselves into echo chambers and, not let things challenge what we believe. And I think, I don’t think your primary reading should be people. Are what you would consider to even be dangerous perspectives or bad perspectives. I think there are guys like us CS Lewis, cuz that’s just as easy example, cuz like everybody loves CS Lewis, but most people don’t [00:15:00] realize he has some really wonky beliefs on some things.
and so we all love to read him and quote him on certain things, but. Even read the things you disagree with and let it at least challenge your thinking. Cuz here’s one of the things one it’ll challenge. You. But in that, it’ll give you a deeper understanding of what you believe and why you believe it.
Right. part of the extremes we’ve talked about before is like the CEO versus the chaplain and the overly pragmatic versus the purest and the strategist versus the overly spiritual, that kind of thinking. And, and here’s the deal, whichever of that pendulum you swing real far towards, I would encourage you to read some good, well written stuff.
On the other end of the spectrum. and, and so if you’re hardcore, theological, spiritual without, and you don’t really like to think a lot about pragmatic leadership, man, read some good leadership stuff and, and think through it in a biblical framing. And here’s the deal, not all of it’s gonna fit, but you have to learn how to eat the meat and spit out the bones.
when it comes to some of those things, but if you’re like a [00:16:00] pure pragmatist and strategist and, and it’s just all about that, then man, you ought to, you ought to pick up something like really deep and theological and rich and let it challenge you, especially something that even challenges the way you view your ecclesiology.
and, and here’s the thing it’s, you’re either gonna learn. Different perspectives that you never would’ve considered before, because you’re outside of your echo chamber. And it’s the only way to learn different perspectives, or you’re gonna grow deeper conviction for what you already believe in. It’s gonna become more real and more concrete because you’ve, you’ve pitted against something with a different perspective and you’ve analyzed and, and studied scripture and thought, man, no, even more.
So now I believe what I came into this believ.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I, I would think That’s an important task to do, but I, I would think that there need to be some safeguards in there and, a couple of thoughts. So, so, so one when I went to Midwestern seminary, way [00:17:00] back in the day, we were in the midst of a, change from very moderate, liberal to conservative at that seminary.
So I basically had two. experiences. And so the first, my first semester, or first year in, at seminary, we were reading way outside of our tribe. I mean, , it was like but the thought was, and the educational kind of philosophy was, want you to read way outside of your tribe. And read from our tribe so that you really know what they believe.
And you know, what you believe so that you leave here with the firm foundation, right? That was year one, two. of the, all of the reading outside your tribe philosophy was gone. It’s, here’s what we believe. Here’s the historic faith delivered to us, et cetera. Right. So I really had two different seminary experiences in that regard.
Right. So the first one we were reading, like Schey marker and malt man, and know, all just wacky stuff. right. It was like, these guys even believe [00:18:00] in Jesus, like, I mean, what is going on here? Right. And it was just craziness. And then the next, the next semester it was. You know, only the Puritans only the reformers, you know, et cetera.
Right. So I really had this, this really interesting experience in seminary. I think where, where my caution would be is for the guys who are out of school or the guys who are, are not going to school. And you’re starting to read outside your tribe, read in community with people who know you and you know them.
Who you have the foundation of historic rudeness? in the faith, especially if you’re gonna read matters, theological matters, theological books. so that you’re doing that in community and you’re not doing that in isolation. My, concern would be that some guys. You know, read one book and then they don’t read it critically.
And they, they aren’t challenged in their assumptions of that book. Or maybe they’re not understanding fully all the aspects of that book. And then they might find themselves heading [00:19:00] off, down an exit, off of the, Orthodox highway a little bit here. and, and so I would be concerned about that.
So if you’re gonna do that, and you’re not in, in community, do that in a community that you have some rootedness in, so that if, if you’re starting to try to dialogue and process new ideas or new truth, you’re, you’re doing that in the context of a community of faith, uh, with kid brother,
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I’ll tell you, like there’s a series of books out there. Uh, I don’t even know who puts ’em out there, but there’s a series of books that are like the five views of, and then it’ll go through something like that. and it’ll, it’ll kind of get all the different perspectives. We, when I was replanting at redemption had a, had a guy who.
Wanted to be considered as an elder candidate. but he had a different theological view on something than we held. and so what I did is he wanted to discuss it further. So we got that the five views of that theological issue book, and we worked through it together for about six months and we would meet once a week.
We would have assigned reading.[00:20:00] It’s one of those where, like I said, it gave me a lot more insight into the different perspectives of that theological view. It didn’t change my theological view. I was open to if, they could prove that scripture teaches something different than what I believed I was open to being corrected.
I believe I was. But through that journey, it really honestly gave me a deeper understanding and deeper conviction of my theological perspective. as I waited against the other perspectives and really tried to analyze and understand where they were coming from and how they came to that conclusion.
and it really, I I’ve, I grew so much deeper in my conviction of my original position as a result.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, tied to scripture in, within community, seeking to understand. and, dialoging with, people I think is really the key part of all of this. And I, I do think it’s important to. To understand the different arguments and the different points from the variety of [00:21:00] perspectives. Because as you mentioned, the real is you’re gonna have leaders within your church that maybe wanna rise up to a higher level of leadership.
They’re gonna have different perspectives. You’re gonna have church members, you likely will receive an email or two, which was common for me. I would receive an email from, uh, a church member who would say, I got a question about this issue, right? And so I
JimBo Stewart: mm-hmm
Bob Bickford: perspective is on this issue, right.
Or be in a small group meeting. I had a person with a different view of salvation and, does God initiated, does the worst free will and you know, all those kinds of things in sovereignty and predestination and those things would come up within the small group discussion. Right? And so to be in the different perspectives enough to be able to answer some of those things.
that’s just one issue. And so I think it is important to be prepared and, and be a lifelong learner in, in these sorts of.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. I mean, I think about, I mean, I think about different people that I’ve learned from and benefited from that I for sure do not agree. 100% with, I mean, there’s some great [00:22:00]stories and illustrations from Tony Capello that I love. I love GK Chesterton. He was a Roman Catholic. you know, I think about, I, I love.
So I, there are some really great leadership stuff from Andy Stanley. I don’t agree with Andy Stanley’s old Testament theology. I don’t wanna unhitch. I, I want to hitch that trailer and I wanna, I wanna, I, I wanna stay hitch to that and, there are different, but here’s the thing, man. I I’ve learned some really written in my, I don’t know about you Bob, but as we come to the end of our time, my journey, I was thinking about this when I became a believer.
I was influenced by very different people than I mostly listened to and read now. Right. And I mean, I, I had like a whole process of evolving and, evolving may not be the right word maturing in maturing in my theological perspective. But here’s the other thing I remember. I remember being a college student at a Christian college [00:23:00] and a professor came to me and wanted to.
Convinced me to sneak a tape recorder into my old Testament professor’s class, because he was convinced my old Testament professor was a liberal. And I said, I’m not sneaking a tape recorder in a class. I said, what is your issue with what he teaches? And he said, well, he teaches evolution. And I. I mean, I haven’t heard that yet.
I said I’ll, if I hear that, I’ll let you know. Here’s what happened as I went in, I kind of wish I would’ve taken the tape recorder in what the professor did. Is he fairly represented different perspectives of the Genesis narrative? Right. Here are the different perspectives. And here’s why they believe these things.
Here’s why this perspective believes this. Here’s why this perspective believes this. He said, this is an academic class, and I want you to know that those perspectives are out there. You need to study scripture and you need to figure out what, what the holy spirit tells you. You know, as you’re studying it, you don’t [00:24:00] test it on everybody’s perspectives, but you need to be aware of them.
And you be aware of where they come from. Well, this professor wasn’t teaching you to believe evolution.
He. He did teach what E evolutionary, creationist and evolutionists believe and why they believe it, but he wasn’t defending it. He wasn’t advocating for it. He was just letting you know clearly that’s what the perspective was.
I think we just gotta, we’ve gotta believe that we pursue truth, we pursue Jesus because he is truth. And if we pursue truth, we can land on Jesus.
Bob Bickford: we live in a time where, Words and meanings and truth are all sort of in the salad bowl, Jimbo, and they’re sort of getting tossed to and F if you’re the kind of person that doesn’t like a mixed salad or you want things segmented, you probably struggle in this cultural reality that we live in, but kids, and I say kids, you know, younger people that are younger than me are all kids Jambo, [00:25:00]basically.
So. the culture that we live in views it differently than, than I did growing up. And I think for, for some, they feel, they feel threatened by just hearing and opposing view. Right. And so I think this really gets to the heart of what we’re, we’re you’re trying to, to us in, uh, the discussion here is. Because Jesus is true. And the scripture has been delivered to us, which is true and authoritative, uh, for us and inspired and narrow and all those good things. We have a source of truth, we build our, our doctrine on our practice, on our lives, on our understanding of who God is and who we are. We build on that. And so we, we don’t advocate departing from that. We advocate using that as a lens by which we evaluate everything and. That would even include some who may have a, a, a bit different take on, some things that we might have a, a firm conviction about. so, long as we stay tethered scripture and examine and look and be [00:26:00] like the BES, right, we wanna test this, right.
We want to
is this true? Is it not true? And we want to be, we want to be deliberate and we want to deliberate. And, think we can do that in the sense. If we can do that with a sense of seeking Jesus, staying true to what God’s word says, that in community. I think, I think we can navigate some, things that will be, important for us.
The tribalism. I think the hard, I think what we’re trying to talk about here, tribalism that exists. In our culture and perhaps even in the church world right now says I’m not even gonna listen to, to what somebody has to say, or I’m not even gonna, I’m not even gonna sit at the table with this dude at an associational event because he likes so.
And so I think we’re. probably not where we need to be. And,
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. Yeah.
Bob Bickford: clean and practical in that regard, of a person, boot camper, is in your association of churches, group of churches, tribe, whatever feel differently or believe differently about some things than you [00:27:00] do.
Could you still sit at a table and have a, a, a with him? Anything, but in particular, could you talk about the areas in which you differ and seek, seek to understand what he believes, share, what you believe then Jesus in, in terms of your ministry context?
JimBo Stewart: I’ll tell you even as a point of evidence in this, I’ve been studying the book of Proverbs pretty in depth in my quiet time. And there’s whole sections of the Proverbs that are basically built off of Egyptian Proverbs. and, and they’re adapted. I mean, there, I mean there’s, and there’s evidence of that.
And, but it’s adapted to where it points to the one, true God, not to a, a random God. And we see, as we see a biblical example of that, right. We see the apostle Paul at Areopagus quote, a pagan poet, as he’s at Mars hill Aeropagus and he’s, talking about how we’re we’re sons of God, and there is one true God.
And so, Truth points to Jesus. And so we should never be [00:28:00] afraid of pursuing truth. Hey, as we close out, just wanted to say we have yet to receive an answer back to the challenge, the gauntlet that you threw down last week, to Tom Rainer and mark Clifton for the shirt, shirt and skins 2 0 2 basketball game.
So we’re still hoping to see that happen.