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I am Giving Up the Need to Be Right

My dad had plans.

As a high school student in the early 1950s in rural Arkansas, he worked to save money for college, joined the Arkansas National Guard, and pinched pennies.

He was going to be a lawyer.

Turns out, his family needed him to support them financially.

While he did earn his degree, law school never happened.

But he worked with litigators. He loved language, loved the law, and very much enjoyed debate.

So I grew up learning how to argue politics at the dinner table. 

Late in my dad’s life, it both frustrated him and brought him great pride when he would commence a topical debate and I would finish it with a dramatic mic drop moment.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this. I learned a lot. We had fun. The nightly conversations helped prepare me to cover politics as a broadcast journalist in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Here’s where things went off the rails.

At some point I thought my identity required me to be right - like, all the time.

I am giving up the need to be right.

Image by MoteOo from Pixabay

I was one of those people, and I'm not at all proud of it.

My experiences were best and you needed to listen to me.

Ugh.

When I’m stressed, I do sometimes succumb to the “must be right” mentality, so I still have lots of room to grow.

Here’s what I’m learning about my identity and who I am not:

  • My identity is not in the victories or the failures in my life.
  • My identity is not in my struggles to control other people or institutions or outcomes.
  • My identity has absolutely nothing to do with what others expect of me or what I think others expect of me.
  • My identity is certainly not found in how many arguments I win online, behind the windshield, or in person. No matter how spiritual I think I’m being when I advocate for what I think is right.

Philippians 2:12 & 13 says:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

My identity has everything to do with my relationship in Christ and what He says about me.

Spoken word artist Hosanna Wong in her piece, I Have a New Name lists all the names our Father has given us. Here are a few:

  • Friend
  • Chosen
  • His Workmanship
  • His art
  • Hand-made
  • Purposed and fashioned for good things
  • His temple and the residence of the Holy Spirit
  • I am His Child
  • Greatly Loved
  • Free
  • And His messenger to the world

The last time I delivered any sort of journalism content on television was 1993, but our Creator has authorized me (and you) to share this Good News.

You are these things, too.

You are:

His art, His child, greatly loved, chosen, His workmanship, called to holiness and freedom in and through Christ.

What might your life begin to look if you give up the need to be right?

If you’re interested in trying on this new identity, do one thing.

Listen more. 

Listen to hear.

How?

Pretty simple.

In many instances, your response after someone is sharing an emotion will simply be “I’m glad you shared that,” or “I hadn’t thought about it that way.”

Better yet, “That sounds (insert emotion here).” Tough, wonderful, difficult, fun. Whatever word fits.

This ability to lean into someone’s emotions without questioning, challenging, or arguing - and without a burning desire to be right is a gift we give ourselves and the people we love.

Quitting the need to be right facilitates our ability to develop this skill.

I’d love to hear from you if this is something you’d like to try.

Tracy@rebootspodcast.com or on Twitter @tracyplaces.

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Tracy Winchell is host of the Reboots Podcast, featuring stories about people who have been forced - or have chosen - to start over in life or in business. Tracy’s first paid gig behind a microphone was as a talking Christmas tree at a mall in Little Rock, Arkansas. She is an Associated Press award-winning broadcast journalist who covered then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992. ​In the past decade, Tracy has started over again on a number of fronts. Following a job loss, she started her own business, built around helping people navigate change through journaling, habits, and gratitude.