In Robertson’s writings and often in his speaking he would address how Christians speak about others. His thoughts seem even more relevant is a world where many feel entitled to say anything about anyone through social media.
I have consulted with multiple congregations in the past 10 years split into painful division because of e-mails being forwarded beyond the original intended author. I have a significant section of material on the Biblical teaching on conflict resolution in my book Life Giving Leadership if you want more assistance in handling the friction that will surely come living in this broken world.
Here I will just paraphrase the experience he shared from his early days as a missionary in Japan.
We were the new missionaries and the more experienced couple had come to dinner to welcome us. It turned into a painful evening of them “helping us” by pointing out failures and weaknesses of all of the other missionaries. They left that evening with a date for another dinner being set and I was not looking forward to another evening of roasting the coworkers we were just meeting.
Muriel assured me she would make sure the next evening’s conversation went differently. Our home had a large wall with no pictures on it. She made a small cross stitch and hung it on the wall. They arrived and noticed the new addition to our decor. The wife walked over, read it, and then called her husband over to read it. (Robertson paused like a good stand up comedian and then said), It was one the quietest dinners we had ever had.
Are the absent safe with you?
Personally I believe Facebook is for sharing photos of my grandbabies and maybe a few vacation photos but I seek to remember in this blog, and all of my online world, that Jesus is present and reading my posts. Social media is just a typed conversation — and the Bible has a great deal to say about how God’s children are to use words.
Bottom Line — if you have a problem with someone — go to them — face to face if possible (not your facebook) — or in as private conversation as possible.
Any subject causing your emotional heat to go UP or your trust in a person or organization to go DOWN — take your concern TO them not to the world online.
Robertson used to joke with me about my passionate interest in leadership. We talked for hours about many leadership subjects. Here is one jewel!
EFFECTIVE LEADERS SEEK SOLUTIONS AND NOT VICTORIES.
Robertson told stories to illustrate his axiom from his days of being president of CIU. Let me paraphrase what he shared. “I wanted the faculty and staff to be engaged and asking good hard questions. I wanted them to research what our position should be on various issues and I designed meetings and created task forces to open doors for their participation.
But there is a downside to all of this investment…. people can develop strong opinions and be passionate about winning for their side of an issue. As president, I saw my role to help us get to a sound solution not get into winning my own victories.”
So — in your marriage, with family and friends and coworkers — what is your goal VICTORIES or SOLUTIONS?
Healthy leaders understand that when people show up filled with questions, even if the questions are delivered with some anger, they need to receive them.
If there is an attacking manner in the approach of the person it provides a character development teaching moment.
It will help the leader to respond properly to begin by giving thanks that a person feel strongly about something. One of my pastoral mentors, Ron Barker, has often said, “It is easier to tame the demoniac than to raise the dead!”
Strong emotion may not always be justified but it does indicate passion and life and perhaps even a deep desire for the organization to be effective.
Let your first response be to listen by asking a non-defensive question to make sure you are clear on the concern or issue.
Focus on God’s perspective on relational pain? In what we call the Lord’s prayer Jesus makes one of the three requests in this prayer he taught his disciples to be about forgiving and asking forgiveness. He is acknowledging that relational pain is a very common experience in a broken world. But Jesus also gives hope. God has an antidote to our hurt and his grace is stronger than the wounds we incur or inflict.
Who “burned you”?
An unhealthy leader — The Biblical response is to take at least two witnesses with you and confront privately and if reconciliation is not achieved, go with the witnesses to the leadership.
A fellow Christian — The Biblical response adds a first step to the above — going privately as a first level way to seek reconciliation.
Is it an old wound and the specific parties are not within contact? Talk with a trusted friend AFTER honestly praying it out with God. Make sure you are balancing both grace and truth and consider a long distance contact to seek reconciliation. Start with praying for anyone you consider an “enemy”.
Were you wounded more by the values and structure? You failed to maintain sound margins or boundaries and the way Christ’s work was being carried out was destroying Christ’s work in you. In this case the structure supported or encouraged you to make choices that were self-inflicted wounds. Forgive yourself. Learn the lessons. Get some close friends to help you maintain good margins and boundaries. Rest and then restart sanely.
What are your thoughts?