To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Pastoring’ Category

Definitive Statements

.I want to write here about how people make definitive statements This theme is closely related to that which I wrote about on Tuesday here. I am thinking about how we, without fully considering an issue, hastily rush to make definitive statements on a matter. Accordingly, people’s tendency to impose a narrative, can cause hurt and dismay by the definitive way people speak about situations without having fully considered those situations. Without fully considering a situation people make statements which categorically affirm a certain understanding of the situation or proposed course of action.

What we need to do is fully consider a situation by speaking with either the person or people involved. When we have fully considered a matter we can then make a response. Very often the most generous and tender thing to do is to make suggestions about what you consider the best way forward in the pertaining situation.

I, must emphasize though, that I am not advocating that there should be never definitive statements about anything. A parent who does not clearly establish what has happened when a child has carelessly used a knife and cut themselves. for example is being neglectful. And not to make definite statements about what the child must do is similarly neglectful.

Moreover, when someone has clearly done something wrong, as measured by the Word of God, we should be unhesitating to declare it to be such.

However, we need to be careful about making unconsidered definitive statements. This is, I would observe, very much against the spirit of our social media age where all sorts of things are slung out with unconsidered definiteness. Let us not fall into the trap of following that spirit in our dealing with others.

 

Imposing A Narrative

What I am thinking of here is the issue of how we respond to peoples’ situations. This can be an issue for parents with their children, friends with one another, employers with their employees. In fact it applies in many situations. I want to think about how we interact we the situations of others.

General. In all situations we must impose the narrative of the gospel to understand the situation we are dealing with. The malaise of this world, as manifest in peoples’ lives, is caused by the entrance of sin into this world. The remedy for the issue of sin is the blood of our Lord Jesus. His salvific work to redeem lives, will work ultimately to retrieve this world form disorder and chaos.

There must be great wisdom and sensitivity in applying the gospel narrative into the situation with which we are interacting. Simplistic cause and effect reasoning are very much cautioned against in Luke 13:1-5. That passage reads:

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

However, that passage also indicates that in a destabilized world, it is sin in the world that is the root cause and as sinners we need to repent. In all this our Lord is imposing a gospel narrative on the situation.

Specific. On the other hand when we come to deal with specific situations we need to be wary of imposing any pre-conceived narrative. I have been very much aware of this through my being afflicted with depression. People may or may not have been right about the narrative they were bringing to my situation. However, what took me aback, at times, was the unwillingness to actually establish with me what had happened to me. People either would not ask or, if they did ask, would not listen to what was said.

I am arguing that always before we jump to conclusions we should stop and consider what has happened. This means we actually listen to the person and find out what there experience is and what they have been through to get there.  For parents, I feel we will fulfill the requirement to not exasperate our children (see Eph. 6:4) if we follow this approach.

Always remember, as well, that even though two people are experiencing something identical that does not mean that the causes of that experience are the same. So don’t assume when you come across someone displaying certain things that you have seen in someone before that the cause is the same in both cases.

It is very frustrating to be on the end of certain counsel or certain views about your situation from people you believe have not taken time to find out about your situation.

So my conclusion is when interacting with any situation always impose a gospel narrative, but never impose a personal narrative.

Bad Communication Leads To………………..

……………………..frustration. I want to address this matter specifically in the context of church leadership. However, the principles also play-out in other realms of life whether that be business, family or community.

For any group of people to function well there has to be good communication. Particular responsibility for providing this communication, and exemplifying it, is with the leadership. When communication is bad by a church leadership then the church starts to malfunction; bad communication leads to frustration. When people are not been told what is going on then they start to get frustrated. Some of the evidences that the communication is bad are:

  • People having to approach the elders to find out about what is going on regarding a specific situation. Now there will be times when such an inquiry is just busy-bodying. Also there will be times when information is confidential and cannot be shared. Generally though, elders should be regularly be keeping all the people who need to know about a matter informed.
  • People say “nobody told me”. This is when certain church members believe that they are not a party to information that others have been given.
  • People start murmuring among themselves about what is going on in a situation.

When these things starts to occur you end up with a frustrated church and the consequences will be:

  • People are deflated. They don’t know what is going on. They feel things are not being dealt with.
  • People are distracted. The duty of church leaders is to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Eph. 4:12). Rather than people being released to works of service, they are being distracted by having to spend energy figuring out what is going on with other stuff in the Church. And this is all because they have not been communicated with.

So church leaders need to:

  • Always veer towards over-communication rather than under-communication.
  • Be sending out information at the same time to those who need to know. A bit here and there to different people can cause upset.
  • Make sure all communications are sufficient so all know enough. Long-winded documents put people off.
  • Communicate with warmth and encouragement. Being too business-like and curt can offend some people.

References.

Given the nature of my position I am in, from time to time, I am asked to be a referee for someone. Here are some thoughts on this:

  • If you are putting someone down as a referee ask their permission first.
  • As someone who writes references, I find the fact that the practice nowadays that jobs are offered ”subject to references” very unsatisfactory. As far as I am aware historic practice was that references were considered before making any offer. But now not so. So if someone has the job offer withdrawn they know that it was the references that precipitated this and that could well have been your reference. This puts much pressure on writing the references. Previously everything would be considered, including the reference, before the applicant was communicated with regarding their success or failure with their application. I suppose one way round this is to say to a person who you feel you will give a negative reference to that they should go to someone else. But this raises its own issues.
  • Overall I so very often find doing a reference to be a great heartache. I am bound to be truthful, my conscience before God binds me to that. However, I want to help the person to further their career and get the the job. My practice, as a rule, is to get them dome asap. Having them hanging around can lead to all kind of mental anguish. In all this I so very often wrestle with whether I have sacrificed the truth in order to be seen to generously write favourably about the person.
  • Everybody has plusses and minusses in their charachter and abilities; you want in writing a reference to accurately reflect these whilst helping them progress in their lives.

What Motivates You?

What motivates you in Christian ministry? Is that I might:

  • be complimented on my service?
  • Manipulate people to do what I want?
  • Gain power over people?
  • Win an argument?
  • Flog myself so others might admire my exertion?

Paul had one overwhelming motive driving his service and that was love. He says to the Corinthians Christ’s love compels us (2 Cor. 5:14). The Corinthian Christians were being affected by the spurious super-apostles who were urging them to be suspicious of Paul. They wanted to represent Paul as someone who just wanted to bring pain to the Corinthians.  Paul  says though : For I wrote to you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you (2 Cor 2:4).

It is passionate love for the Corinthians that motivated Paul to want to distress them over their failure to deal with sin. Love motivated Paul to get agitated and uncomfortable with the Corinthians. We so often cop out and do not want to get involved with the difficulties of potentially upsetting people. Paul, loved people too much to cop out in such a way

Do I love people enough to risk upsetting them? Love that makes everyone think well of me is not really love at all.

This all applies so very much into parenting as well. If we just want to avoid upsetting our children then we are most likely spoiling them and not loving them.

Leading In Repentance.

This post from last week leads me to think about how leaders should demonstrate their leadership in repentance. This is essentially counter-intuitive because the thinking of the world is that you have to prove yourself to be strong and in control if you are a leader. However the godly leader is not of that ilk.

The model of our leadership is a Saviour who was humble and lowly of heart. Now our Saviour never had to repent of any sin. However for us who are weak in our beings and prone to wander from the ways of God there should be the readiness to repent.

This so important because it is how we display the gospel into our family and into our church. Parents and church leaders who are not repenters set a bad example to those under their care. The gospel we affirm, after all, is a message which has its fulcrum in repentance. Gospel grace swings into our lives when there is repentance. Forgiveness is experienced when there is repentance.

So parents and church leaders make sure that you are a leader in repentance. Children and church members who see their leaders ever proving their strength and refusing to face up to their sins are hindered from seeing the gospel clearly displayed before them.

Happy To Be Wrong.

Some leaders are a menace because they always have to be right. Such people are generally quite insecure because if they are found to be wrong they feel themselves to be threatened. It is my persuasion though that leaders should be happy to be wrong. Leaders should be happy to lose arguments.

Now I am not talking here about matters of principle, particularly those established by scripture. We should not be prepared to be wrong about those issues. If we are prepared to accept being wrong on such issues, we are truly untrustworthy people. But we should be happy to be overruled on matters of procedure; if others have a better way of doing things we should be happy to accept that. Another instance would be when when we have simply misunderstood a situation we should not obfuscate the matter rather we tell openly of our wrongness.

This is refreshing for those under our care because if we defy the evidence and deny our wrongness then we just lead to them being exasperated. Which leads me to ponder upon the scripture Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4). Parents should be willing to own up on the occasions when they are proven to be wrong. If they don’t then they will exasperate their children.

We win so many over to our leadership if they realise we are honest people who do not just force our will upon others. Lets us not exasperate our people / children through our leadership, but rather delight them and encourage them through our willingness to accept when we are wrong. There is a sense in which leaders should lead in acknowledging their failure and wrongness.

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