By: Dennis Bates
If the meek shall inherit the earth, as Jesus said, I guess I’ll always be a renter. It’s either that or I’ll have to look for real estate in another solar system. Like it or not, I am not meek, even though I wish I could be just a little less strident and opinionated some times.
Arguments seem to follow me, search me out even, and sometimes invent themselves somewhere in my head between my thoughts and the words that come out of my mouth to express them. I like to think they are just loud discussions sometimes, but usually they are what they are: arguments.
I’ve heard people say that they hate confrontation and arguing. When I hear someone say that my first response is Why? I even heard people say that in law school and I wondered, sometimes not so silently, what they were doing in a discipline that puts a premium on the very thing they said they hated. To me a lawyer who hates confrontation is like a chef who doesn’t like to eat. What’s the point?
I used to go to meetings, some in very important places like the Pentagon in Virginia, where I couldn’t listen to the silly, misguided and often absolutely wrong statements being made. Finally, because I would have burst open if I would have tried to keep quiet anymore, I spoke up. Often I rubbed some high ranking feathers the wrong way, and believe me I heard about it afterward. In spite of that I always had people come up to me after the meeting ended and say “I was thinking that but I just didn’t have the guts to say it.” Again my response was Why?
Frankly, I just don’t get or respect people who sit mute when they know something is wrong. I can’t do that. However, there is a price to pay for candor; it has a bitter taste when you have to eat your words later for one reason or another. Also, even though you were candid, sometimes you can be wrong, and, if you’re fortunate, there are only a few people willing to point that out to you. Unfortunately, sometimes there are lots of people willing to rub your nose in your errors.
Confrontation often brings on more confrontation.
I’d like to believe that I only argue about important things when I see an injustice being done, but I know better. A lot of the time I take issue with the trivial and it has nothing to do with justice or injustice. I’d like to believe that I need to say a lot of the things I do because people want me to so they have a voice, but I know better. A lot of people cringe when I talk too much and some even hold their ears.
The long and short of it is that I am who I am, and I can try to smooth out the rough edges a little bit, but I’m going to always have a big mouth that frequently talks to much. Even when I was in grade school I can remember people telling me that I should be a Philadelphia lawyer when I grew up. I’ve never actually known whether that was a compliment, a put down or a warning to those around me to stay away. Maybe it was all three, maybe none of them.
All I can do is ask the Holy Spirit to take me the way I am and use me for His glory. And I know He will because that’s just the way He works. He can even use a contentious big mouth like me.