Growing up as the middle girl in a family with six kids teaches you that arguments can be won or lost by who shouts the loudest. Born number four out of three girls and three boys meant I did a whole lot of yelling growing up. It’s the only way anyone heard. Unfortunately, when you’re used to handling relationships that way, it can become a way of life. In a family like this, rarely does one sit down and calmly discuss an issue. Talking and communicating have no place. Anger becomes the driving force, often leaving a trail of pain and broken relationships in the wake of those involved.
I’ll never forget the day when all this changed. Brother Schuetz and I had been married for less than two months. We were standing in the yard, and he said something that infuriated me. My response was to jump in his face, screaming. He looked at me for just a minute and said, “Woman, when you can carry on an intelligent conversation, I’ll be in the house.” With that, he turned around and strolled inside as if he didn’t have a care in the world. All I could do was stand there, mouth open, without a word to say. How could I argue, he wasn’t there to listen? He wouldn’t have heard me if I yelled at him. I knew better than to follow him and argue or yell. There’s no telling what he would have done. All I could do was stare at his back as he walked away.
That was a turning point for me. From the very early days of our marriage, we’ve never really argued. When we disagree, we focus on what we don’t agree on and purposefully choose not to hurt one another. We look for solutions for our disagreements. The only time we ever have to apologize is over a misunderstanding and never purposely causing each other pain. Our relationship is too important to us both to drive a wedge between us, for any reason. He’s my best friend, and I’m his. Why would we either one purposely hurt our best friend just because we’re angry?
This lesson didn’t stop with my husband and children. It took a while, but it eventually seeped into other relationships. Many things have happened to us in the past 44 or more years that have taught us the importance of a relationship. There was a time that I had to prove I was right. Even though I cared about others, I still had to feel that “God and I” knew the truth.
This can be destructive behavior for a pastor. Unbridled, it can even lead to one becoming defensive and angry. It’s easy to lose your gratefulness to God. You can’t understand why others don’t appreciate and understand you. You begin to get mad because people don’t recognize how you sacrifice for them. Left unchecked, it can lead to bitterness and even total meltdown.
It has taken years, but God’s finally taught me “relationship is more important than being right.” There are many times that I can’t entirely agree with another person; however, arguing with him will not change his opinion. Neither will condemnation, censorship or gossiping about him change his perspective. I’ve found that if I love him and develop a relationship with him, he will learn to trust me. Then I gain the influence and respect that will make him want to hear what I have to say. Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Why lose an important relationship just for the surge of “power” or the sense of “pride” we get from feeling right? Does it make any sense? What would happen if we were to admit that we might be wrong occasionally, and maybe bite our tongue, even when we might know more than the other person? If every one of us committed to holding our opinion for one month, it would change our world. Who knows where that would lead.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz has been a Christian since she and her husband, Pastor Michael Schuetz gave their hearts to God on November 15, 1978. They have ministered together since 1989 and together they have pastored seven different churches. Sharon was the senior pastor of their first church while Michael served as co-pastor. In the other churches, Michael served as senior pastor and Sharon his co-pastor. She has been licensed to counsel through the National Christian Counselors Association in Sarasota, FL since 1993.