Apr 032014 8 Responses

Opinions Rarely Matter

Most of the time, my opinion doesn’t matter.

And neither does yours.

Opinions are great. We all have them. Many of them are right and useful. The right opinion shared to the right person at the right time can dramatically change a situation. They can save lives, prevent tragedies, and lead to wonderful outcomes.

Yet most of the time, they simply don’t matter. (See: Everyone Has a Right to Ignore Your Opinion)

When it comes to your life, your decisions, and your actions, my opinions do not really matter.

They might matter if you care. If you desire to know my thoughts or ideas and you ask to hear them, then they might matter.

But if we don’t have much of a relationship or even if we do and you don’t care about my thoughts on this area of your life, then my opinions don’t matter.

And herein lies the conflict—while my opinions do not matter, they feel so important. They are like a fire burning in the soul. They demand to be announced. How dare I not let you know?

This is why your mother-in-law can’t mind her own business. (See: What Every Mother-in-law Should Know)

This is why your busy-body co-worker can’t keep her mouth shut.

This is why the barber shop has conversations.

We think our opinions are the most important things in the world and we feel compelled to share them. But in reality, they mean nothing.

While they mean nothing, sharing them can mean something.

Sometimes sharing our opinions comes with little consequences. We all have opinions and we all share them. People kindly listen, tell their thoughts, and the conversation moves on.

However, on many occasions sharing our opinions have severe consequences. A good amount of the time, when we share our opinions about the actions or decisions of others, those opinions create unnecessary pain. Because we share them without being asked, without knowing all the information, and in areas in which we have no responsibility, we rudely interject ourselves in the lives of others for no other reason than we think we are right. (See: How to Respond to Mean People)

In so doing, we are wrong.

Consider: nearly every opinion you have of people as you read Facebook does not matter.

Don’t think that couple should be dating? (See: Three Reasons People Criticize You)

Don’t think that person should’ve gotten a tattoo?

Don’t believe that person should have quit their job?

Don’t think that family can afford that vacation?

It doesn’t matter. Chances are, none of those things are any of your business.

While it is fine to have any opinion you wish, when you passive aggressively share your opinion with the person or foolishly gossip about the person to someone else, your opinion begins to do damage. It injures people and relationships.

As a pastor, I struggle every day with the question: does my opinion matter in this situation?

Sometimes it does. On occasion I have an obligation to share my opinion of a situation because a person attends our church and we have a pastoral relationship. Yet those situations are rare.

Even when I am someone’s pastor, most of the time, my opinion doesn’t matter. While I would happily assist them if they ask, if they do not ask then I must keep my opinion to myself. If I don’t, my pointless opinion can have very disastrous consequences.

While we all have opinions, very few of them matter. Before sharing your opinion with anyone, consider these questions:

1. Do I have all the information necessary to have an opinion?

2. Do I have the right motives for sharing my opinion?

3. If I share this opinion, am I sharing it with the right person?

4. Do I have the proper relationship to have a right to share my opinion?

5. If the situation was reversed, would I be happy if this opinion was shared with me?

What question would you add in order to determine the right time to share our opinions?

 

8 Responses to Opinions Rarely Matter
  1. pk Reply

    Thanks! Excellent post (in my opinion!!) 🙂

  2. Kim Reply

    What about do I have the confidence in the speaking out God’s truth if asked. With the complicated world we live in today sometimes an extra light is needed to see the truth. How do we decide when that time is in front of us?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I think, if asked, we can almost always do so. It’s important to understand the intent of the questioner and to answer the real question at hand. Notice how Jesus often answered a different question than asked. Generally speaking, if you genuinely want to know then I will genuinely tell you.

  3. Janna Reply

    Interesting thoughts. I have many concerns about a best friends fiance. Over a year ago, (they were not engaged yet) after weeks of prayer and thoughts, I gave her my unasked opinion. I truly felt I was doing the right thing. Never in a million years, did I realize that it would tear our friendship apart. We were crib babies in church and had been friends ever since. After the initial conversation, we are no longer friends. We are now corgial and pleasant, but not friends. I am sad. Sometimes I regret giving my opinion, but I know in my heart that I spoke my concerns in love. Its been difficult. Ultimately, you are right. My opinion didn’t matter.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Janna, Whether or not you should have said something cannot necessarily be determined by the person’s reaction. Let’s be honest, a good friend would have responded with kindness and understanding even if they didn’t agree with you. They would have known your heart and intent. I actually wonder if her response is a sign she might have been afraid you were right.

  4. […] You don’t have to agree with me, but you do have to respect my right to have an opinion. (See:... kevinathompson.com/intolerent-anyone-disagrees
  5. […] It’s not just unnecessary; it is wrong. (See: Opinions Rarely Matter) […]... kevinathompson.com/my-opinion-on-your-opinions

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