I met today with a pastor friend of mine in town.
I came away appreciating him all the more.
One of the things that frustrates me in life and ministry is the degree to which we don’t shoot straight with people. We don’t ask them what they meant, don’t tell them what we feel, don’t meet with them to understand a frustration, see it from their perspective or just plain pursue them directly when there’s a problem.
Just as bad, but a lot less obvious, we don’t hold each other to this kind of standard. Many folks, and unfortunately many church leaders, can spend weeks being part of a conversation without ever thinking or saying, “have you talked to him (or her) yet?”
Matthew 18 lays out a pattern of resolving conflict. It talks about going to a person, then maybe another trusted person or mediator to help and then, only as a last resort when all has been hashed out, you tell your case to the community at large.
Two problems we have: first, we look at this passage as having to do with “Church Discipline” which is formal and irrelevant to most relationships and, therefore, ignore or misread it. Second, we run through it in the opposite direction — we tell a lot of folk our side of the story, then maybe get a little more serious with a few people and then, lastly, actually talk to the person in question.
This is more a reflection of our culture than anything else. It is, however, a cultural pattern Christian leaders should push against as much as they can.
Love, unity, grace, relationships, community, family, forgiveness, reconciliation, fellowship, teamwork and just about any other word describing health and flourishing, requires handling misunderstandings and frustrations in a mature manner.
Shooting straight (dealing directly and fairly with people) promotes health while all other approaches doesn’t.
Christian leaders need to continually steer their communities toward healthy relational principles. Simply put, we need to shoot straight and encourage others to do the same.
May we never stand idly by while others “talk about others as we wouldn’t want to be talked about.”
My pastor friend is exceptional at holding people who come to him to high standards of truth. He makes sure people shoot straight.
Kudos to him – he’s the real deal.