There have been numerous epidemics over the years. Most are dreadful diseases effecting millions of people. Defined as a rapid spread or increase of something, an epidemic can manifest in many forms. One such form is described as untamable and setting on fire the course of nature. It can be spoken, written, posted, or tweeted. I call it the Opinion Epidemic.
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue (James 3: 6-8).
We all appreciate being heard. Effective communication is a cornerstone of any relationship. It matters with employee and employer, husband and wife, and doctor and patient. In friendships, courtships and every relationship, it’s important to know that your opinion matters and your voice counts. Obviously, social media has created new opportunities to communicate quickly and easily. Anyone can have a platform. But what happens when a need to be heard turns into a dialogue of opinions powered by personal bias and through a medium that has no limits? Opinionitis! It can influence decisions, destroy relationships and ignite intense emotions.
“Opinionitis spreads rapidly. It must be carefully diagnosed and thoughtfully treated.”
We are all influenced by opinions. Many of them are important. They matter in business because your profits are based on the opinions of your customers. They matter to public figures because they make their living entertaining or serving others. They matter in healthy relationships because we care how our loved ones feel. They matter in work environments because sales and promotions are influenced by opinions and perceptions. Sometimes advice comes from people you love, respect, and admire, and matters simply because of who they are.
While opinions are important in many social structures, no one wants to be controlled and manipulated by the opinion of others. Here are some examples of how an opinion can be controlling and if followed, can cause Opinionitis.
- The perspective of the other person is a clear violation of a Biblical directive.
- The person offering the opinion has a selfish motive.
- The opinion stalls productivity, creativity, and other positive behavior.
- The opinion leads to fear and worry.
- The opinion creates division.
- The statements are rooted in anger, jealousy, and other hurtful emotions.
- Evaluate what is being said and who is saying it.
- Make a decision to ignore it, pray about it and wait, make an adjustment, or do it.
- Consider the opinions that you embraced in the past. If you followed some bad advice, stop, turnaround, and restore!
People usually offer opinions based on how they see you, instead of what you are really capable of doing. Here are some situations to consider as a prescription to avoid some possibly misguided advice. Be cautious when dealing with these types of people.
- The person with the opinion is giving advice in an area where they have no proven success.
- The person stating the opinion does not see what God is doing in your life.
- You don’t know the person offering the opinion. They don’t know you. They have no influence in your life. Their opinion has no effect on anything you value. It’s just talk.
- The person with the opinion does not have a Biblical word view.
The key to overcoming negative opinions is to keep moving forward. Remember the old saying, “Action speaks louder that words?” It’s true. Words can be hurtful. Initially, critical comments can feel like a dagger piercing your heart. But in time, you will build an immunity and become stronger. In my previous post, Where is Your Promise? Five Ways to Rekindle Your Dreams, #5 is called, Awaken Your Inner Giant Slayer. It explains how to slay your giants. Sometimes, that’s exactly what it takes to break free from hindering opinions that are embedded in your mind.
God created you with a purpose. He gave you unique gifts and talents. While some people will prove to be a treasure during your quests, many will offer advice that hinders, distracts, and even destroys. Be sharp. Be vigilant. Learn to wisely discern the difference between wise counsel and bad advice.
Avoid the Opinion Epidemic!