How to talk to your secular friends

How to talk to your secular friends February 16, 2015

Since I am a conservative Christian and a professional philosopher, I am sometimes asked how I get along with my secular colleagues. The truth is that I have many friends in my professional life whose worldviews are different from my own. I love and cherish these persons, and I regularly pray for blessing in their lives.


What is the key to getting along with friends who think differently than I do, both inside and outside of my profession? Part of it is just to ‘let it go,’ and not to get annoyed over slights or insults. Sometimes this involves nothing more than swallowing my pride. Sometimes it means doing something more – maybe to pause, step back, and recognize that my hurt feelings are not the most important thing in this situation.


Another practice that I try to follow is to be generous to my secular friends in my field. I serve them whenever possible – whether by offering to read and comment on their work (this is considered to be a service responsibility), or by listening, genuinely, to their views. A little bit of generosity goes a long way in smoothing social relations!


As a Christian in professional philosophy I often feel as though my views are marginalized. A lot of people do not want to hear what I have to say – many of them think that they already know what my view is before I express it. But when I spend a good percentage of my time focusing on the things that my secular colleagues and I have in common – circumstances in which I major on the ties that we have in common – I have found that my friends are more interested in my view when it comes time for me to speak. Being charitable toward one’s neighbors – whoever they might be – wins their esteem, in my experience.

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