My Right or My Relationship
By Dot Bowen
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8 (NIV)
Years ago, someone shared this valuable principle with me: “Give up your right to be right to be close.” I can honestly say I have quoted this to myself at least once or twice a week since I first heard it, and sometimes daily! If you are having any relational conflict, this truth applies. How often do we try to prove our point, win the battle of words, or fight for our right to be heard? Is it wrong to share our feelings or to communicate our side of the story? Absolutely not! But when we are more interested in proving our point or manipulating people through pushing our opinions, we are essentially telling others that our need to be right is more important than our relationship with them. Giving up your right to be right in order to have a close relationship with others is exactly what Jesus did. Jesus had every right to stay in heaven because He is God. Because of Jesus’ relationship with His Father and His desire to have a relationship with us, He humbled Himself, came to earth, and even died on a cross.
When you are in a relationship and experience a misunderstanding or conflict, you can chose to prove that you are right, or you can humble yourself and value the relationship more than your right to be right. This holds true for anyone—parent, wife, friend, sibling, or employee. I have found trying to prove I’m right about something has never changed another’s view no matter how creative I think I have communicated my point of view. We have little—and usually no—control over making anyone see things the way we see things. I can’t make people change their mind or behavior. So why should I waste energy trying? As a follower of Christ I am to follow His example. Jesus gave up His right to stay in Heaven and chose to come to earth to be close to us.
Do not hear me say you can’t communicate your feelings or your point of view! However, after you have communicated to the best of your ability, let God open the eyes and heart of others to what you are saying. You must give up your right to prove your point. Pray and ask God to close your mouth when you want to continue to push the point. There have even been occasions when I have found God doesn’t want me to communicate my point at all.
I assure you giving up your right to be right in order to be close is more a heart issue than a mouth issue. The reason I feel so sure about this is because I happen to think I’m always right—and that’s a problem! I cannot tell you how many times I have to pray to keep my mouth shut and heart open to the people I love. I am learning to love and trust God to be my defender. 1 Peter 5:5 tells us, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” I need all the grace He gives, and I’m to give grace to others. When I take on this attitude, God’s grace makes it easier to give up my right to be right to be close and diminishes my desire for everything to be about me. Giving up my right to prove I’m right strengthens my faith and brings glory to God, not me.
Further Reading Philippians 2:1-11; 1 Peter 5:1-5; James 4:10; Ephesians 4:2