Over the last few years in ministry, I’ve learned a lot about people and even more about the wide range of Christians. So, I thought I would briefly share a few lessons learned.
1) There will be misunderstandings. As clear as I try to be, there have always been people who misinterpret what I’m saying or what we’re trying to do. I don’t blame other people for not getting what I’m saying. It’s certainly my fault. But people tend to filter a message through their own context and experience, and that is just a reality of life. But I’ve learned to hear what they are saying so that I can more clearly communicate the next time.
2) Remain Teachable. I don’t know everything. I can learn from other people. And so although I do a lot of writing, I also do a lot of listening and a lot of reading. As Christians, being teachable is at the heart of Discipleship. We must be willing to learn from God’s word and from God’s people.
3) There will always be people who disagree. There are certainly a lot of people who agree with me and what we are trying to do. But anytime you stick your neck out and take a stand, there will be people opposed to that stance who want to take you down. So, although I would love everyone to agree with us, I welcome those who disagree. I will always listen to someone who say’s we are on the wrong side of something, and I will attempt to learn from their perspective. And that’s true even if we still disagree in the end.
Think for yourself means doing the hard work of truly figuring out what you believe instead of allowing others to tell you what you should or shouldn’t think about something
4) Think for yourself. This is an interesting and tough lesson. Think for yourself means doing the hard work of truly figuring out what you believe instead of allowing others to tell you what you should or shouldn’t think about something. It means having a questioning spirit, a curious spirit, and yes…a skeptical spirit. If someone tells you something that doesn’t ring true, research it. Think about it. Pray about it. Read God’s word about it. You may end up believing what you’ve been told anyway, but thinking for yourself is all about being an active participant in your own belief development. If you don’t think for yourself, you just become a pawn in someone else’s game.
5) Some people are going to be jerks…Love them anyway. It’s one thing to disagree. It’s another thing to be disagreeable. When I meet people face to face or on the phone, most people are incredibly nice and agreeable. But chat with people behind an email or anonymously via twitter, and people can be downright nasty. This is certainly not true of every one of those conversations, but that IS where people can be a-holes without the repercussions of damaging a real relationship. And so, when I see a conversation heading south online, I always try to shift the conversation to phone, Skype, or in-person. It rarely happens with disagreeable people. But when it does happen, the difference is amazing. And regardless, we are called to love people; all people…including our enemies. That’s really tough sometimes…but I must love anyway.
What About You?
OK, so I actually have learned a lot more than 5 things in ministry. I’ll share more another time. So, what about you? What have you learned about life or people worth sharing with others?