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By Mike Ruffin I’m grateful that Walter Geiger allows me to occupy this space every other week. I don’t know if he’s grateful that he agreed to our arrangement. I don’t plan to ask him. I figure he’ll let me know if he changes his mind about it. Sometimes I hear from people who agree with or appreciate what I write. I hear much less often from people who disagree with or don’t appreciate it. You expect both agreement and disagreement when you write an opinion piece, which is what I do. You know what they say about opinions: everybody has one. Someone’s opinion might line up with mine. Or it might not. Back when I was a pastor, I’d sometimes say to my congregation, ‘Sometimes I’m right and you’re wrong, and sometimes you’re wrong and I’m right.’ My saying that is #9 on my list of Forty-Seven Reasons I’m No Longer a Pastor. Here’s the thing, though: I do think I’m right. I do think that my opinions are more correct than the opinions of people who disagree with me. If you stop and think about it, you’ll realize the utter reasonableness of that statement. If I didn’t think my opinion was more correct than those who hold a different opinion, then I’d share their opinion, and we wouldn’t disagree anymore, would we? And vice-versa. I do try to follow some guidelines in expressing my opinions. Guideline #1: humility. I recognize my limitations. I am limited by my background and by my experiences. I never forget that not only do I not know everything; I don’t even know all that much. I know a lot about a little and a little about a lot. I remember that I am always learning and growing. I acknowledge that I might not be fully right. I may even be wrong. Occasionally. Guideline #2: honesty. I try to tell the truth. You may agree or disagree with what I say. I may be right or I may be proven wrong. But I assure you that I never write anything that I don’t believe to be the truth. I realize that what I say might sometimes rankle some readers, but I say it because I believe it’s true, not because I want to rankle. I will admit to hoping my words challenge folks, but again, I want to challenge you with the truth, not with lies. Guideline #3: love. My goal is for love to motivate everything I write. That means that compassion and empathy undergird my words. It means I want to encourage us all to put other people ahead of ourselves. Such motives characterize decent human beings. A human being who follows Jesus should find those motives being amplified. I write and share my opinions with the conviction that it is better to be loving than to be right. But I hope I say everything I say because of the love I have for people and because I want us to love each other. You might not think that adhering to those guidelines in forming and expressing an opinion is necessary. Well, with all the humility, honesty, and love I can muster, let me say that sometimes I’m right and you’re wrong, and sometimes you’re wrong and I’m right! Mike Ruffin lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville. He is the Connections Curriculum Editor with Smyth & Helwys Publishing in Macon. His latest book, Fifty-Seven: A Memoir of Death and Life, is available through online booksellers.

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