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How Open-Minded Are You?


This morning in our reading of Scripture, Carol and I read of the incident in Acts where Paul and Silas, having recently been unjustly beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, found themselves sharing the story of Christ with the Jews in Thessalonica. Some of them opened their minds to receive the new truth while others gathered a mob ('here we go again they must have thought') to attack them. When they couldn't find them they attacked anyone who had helped them, such was their resistance and closed-mindedness. Remember these were the People of God ... who loved God ... now wanting to destroy God's ambassadors! I'm sure Paul could understand some of this after all he had once been in their position! Anyway, Paul & Silas skip town and head down to Berea where they continue the mission and get a much more open-minded response. Luke writes, "they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11) Nevertheless, the Jews from Thessalonica, once they caught wind of this, heading on down to Berea to sabotage the mission!

This week I spent time with someone who suffered from dyslexia as a child which meant that they always struggled with learning and assimilating new information. However, rather than closing their minds to new things, they committed to being very open to new ideas and truths because they were well aware limited understanding. So when something came along that improved their previous understanding in some way, they quickly jettisoned the old and embraced the new. Now that is a very healthy disposition and a blessing.

Just this morning in our Prayer Time at church we read Paul's prayer for the Colossians. He asks that they be filled with all wisdom and spiritual understanding so that they would increase their knowledge of God (cf. Col 1:9-11). It was reminiccent of Peter's words too;

Ray Dalio says that it’s easy to tell an open-minded person from a closed-minded person because they act very differently.

1. Closed-minded people don’t want their ideas challenged. They are typically frustrated that they can’t get the other person to agree with them instead of curious as to why the other person disagrees. They feel bad about getting something wrong and are more interested in being proven right than in asking questions and learning others’ perspectives.

Open-minded people are more curious about why there is disagreement. They are not angry when someone disagrees. They understand that there is always the possibility that they might be wrong and that it’s worth the little bit of time it takes to consider the other person’s views in order to be sure they aren’t missing something or making a mistake.

2. Closed-minded people are more likely to make statements than ask questions. While believability entitles you to make statements in certain circumstances, truly open-minded people, even the most believable people I know, always ask a lot of questions.

Open-minded people genuinely believe they could be wrong; the questions that they ask are genuine. They also assess their relative believability to determine whether their primary role should be as a student, a teacher, or a peer.

3. Closed-minded people focus much more on being understood than on understanding others. When people disagree, they tend to be quicker to assume that they aren’t being understood than to consider whether they’re the ones who are not understanding the other person’s perspective.

Open-minded people always feel compelled to see things through others’ eyes.

4. Closed-minded people say things like “I could be wrong . . . but here’s my opinion.” It’s often a perfunctory gesture that allows people to hold their own opinion while convincing themselves that they are being open-minded.

Open-minded people know when to make statements and when to ask questions.

5. Closed-minded people block others from speaking. If it seems like someone isn’t leaving space for the other person in a conversation, it’s possible they are blocking.

Open-minded people are always more interested in listening than in speaking; they encourage others to voice their views.

6. Closed-minded people have trouble holding two thoughts simultaneously in their minds. They allow their own view to crowd out those of others.

Open-minded people can take in the thoughts of others without losing their ability to think well—they can hold two or more conflicting concepts in their mind and go back and forth between them to assess their relative merits.

7. Closed-minded people lack a deep sense of humility. Humility typically comes from an experience of crashing, which leads to an enlightened focus on knowing what one doesn’t know.

Open-minded people approach everything with a deep-seated fear that they may be wrong.

I felt convicted reading this list but also challenged to keep orienting myself to being more open-minded and inviting others to be the same. I certainly don't want to miss what God is saying and doing among us, never mind finding myself potentially working against God. Lord, help me and help us to risk more, listen more and become more of what you make possible by grace.

With love and prayers,

Pastor Mike

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