Thursday, March 10, 2011
The Power of Words
As I've said in previous posts, I'm in the process of transitioning out of my present ministry. I tend not to post much about it. This is partly due to the fact that often times I'm not sure what to say as I wrestle with all the feelings and emotions and anxieties that come with such a transition. It's also due to the fact that ranting on this blog wouldn't do anyone any good, even me, the ranter. That having been said, I had an interesting conversation with a member of my congregation yesterday, and it's got me thinking. The conversation happened because I overheard this person asking someone else how serious I was about leaving. Since announcing to the congregation that I would be leaving, I've had many individuals approach me and ask me to reconsider. Without going into my reasoning why, when I overheard the discussion about how serious I was on leaving, I felt I needed to talk with this person and address their question. So, I pulled the person aside after our service and asked the person if we could talk.
A long conversation made short, yesterday we had that talk. I tried to express, both honestly and gently, some of the specific reasons that I am leaving. I'm not sure how well I did. I tend to get passionate about these things, and it's hard for me to not let that affect my thinking and tone of voice. I can be very analytical, so it wouldn't surprise me if I came across like a lawyer making my case, point of evidence by point of evidence. However, the person was very open to the conversation and things ended on a positive note.
But then on the trip to work today (which is a whopping 1/3 mile), I had a moment of clarity. I spent over an hour talking with this person yesterday, listing the reasons behind my decisions and trying to answer their questions, but you know what...those reasons don't really get to the bottom of things. At the core of the issue is a deep sense of hurt. People have been mean, sometimes even cruel, in how they've treated me and my wife. Words were used that wore and weighed us down, but here's the thing. If just one of the people who hurt us had said, "I'm sorry," things would have been radically different. The words "I'm sorry" have power too, power greater than words used to attack.
It amazes me how it's always the bullies that say, "You need to have thicker skin." Granted, as a minister, being attacked comes with the territory. You expect it when you go into this line of work, but such behavior shouldn't be acceptable. Normal and right are two very different things. But again, things happen, words are said that hurt and damage. That's just the way it goes. However, as Christians, as a people who should not think of themselves more highly then they ought, as people who pray, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us," we should be the first to say, "I'm sorry." How much healthier would our churches be if we could just be a people who learned to say, "I was wrong; forgive me"?
Words have power. I spent a long time yesterday trying to explain actions that had gone wrong over the past three years. My conversation could have been much shorter. I could have simply said, "I've never been told, 'We're sorry.'"
Stopping point: Deuteronomy 34
PS- Since some from my congregation do read this blog, let me acknowledge that many members have come to me and apologized for how things have gone. That continued support means a great deal to me and Kalyn, and I know you are as upset about how things have gone as I am. But let me also say this...you are not the ones who have hurt us. You have nothing to apologize for. We love you. We appreciate you, and we pray for you. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen.