Dixie Chicks? Does that sound familiar? It does if you are a fan of country music. Just over a decade ago they were the darlings of the country music industry. The group consisted of three attractive, talented, country stars who produced hit after hit. They were riding high until their lead singer decided to make a political comment. Certainly she had the right and no one would deny her freedom of speech. She criticized the sitting president at the time, George W. Bush. Here is the problem… Her audience was made up of country music fans who lean heavily conservative, patriotic, and republican. The career of the entire group went into a nosedive. They tried coming back with one more album but the damage had been done.
Whether you serve in a ministry or operate a business it is important to know who your customers and your potential customers are. Who is it that you are trying to serve? Who is it that you are trying to reach? You cannot serve an audience that you alienate. Perhaps you are like me. I have strong moral convictions, deep Biblical convictions, and clear political convictions. I believe that I am right on all points. But guess what? Not everyone agrees. You may have noticed that people can get real worked up over issues related to any of these areas. How do you express those convictions without un-necessarily alienating people? As a person who is called by God into the ministry I believe that I have a message to share. I want as many people as possible to be open to it and to hear it. As I have wrestled with how to balance being a person of conviction with the desire to keeping my message open to as many people as possible (by not alienating over half of them) I have applied the following:
- I try to distinguish my political opinions from Biblical and moral convictions. The lines seem to be blurry to a lot of people. Though I have a strong opinion, I am not called to represent a political party but to represent the Lord. Therefore, I will discuss politics with anyone but do not take public stands on political issues, unless the issue is clearly rooted in a Biblical or moral concern. By the way… I follow politics closely and have strong opinions about which way we should go.
- I generally try to utilize social media to be social rather than to make a point about anything, particularly political opinions.
- When taking Biblical and moral stands, I always seek to do so with compassion. The aim of my stand is not to hurt anyone but ultimately to bring healing. The Bible calls this “speaking the truth in love.” Speaking the truth without love leads to alienation. Loving without speaking the truth leads injury.
- Though I do not want to alienate anyone, I will stand for the Word of God on all points without apology.
Now the Dixie Chicks could still be rocking the country world today. But they chose to take a political stand by criticizing the character of a president supported by a majority of their audience. They would not have compromised their convictions by singing another song instead of making political commentary at a country music concert. The people were there for their music, not their political opinion. Take a stand, but take it at the right place, at the right time, over the right things. And when you do speak out….speak the truth in love.