Studies in Grace, Part 7 - Modeling Grace in Disagreeable Times

Friday, October 19, 2018

During the ‘60s, we Baby Boomers embraced a line in one of Bob Dylan’s songs: ‘the times, they are a changin.’ Well here we are again, but this time many of us see the world through the revealed words of the Living God. His scriptures have defined truth for us both in this world and the one to come. With that illumination guiding our lives, we are encountering the ungodly cultural drift that's happening around us, and more than likely, have already had more than one disagreeable conversations. For these changing and challenging times, let me offer several comments that may help you handle future disagreeable times in a gracious manner.

First, always leave room for an opposing viewpoint. If you don't have room for an opposing viewpoint, you're not going to do well when you get teenagers. Teens can be among our best teachers. I know ours have been. They haven't always been right, nor have I. However, I have learned in rearing teenagers that they are great at pointing out another point of view, if nothing else than just to make me think, just to challenge me, just to remind me that there is another way of viewing things. I can assure you, it has helped me in my ministry. It has certainly helped me in my relationship with those to whom I am personally accountable. I have also learned that opposition is good for our humility!

Second, if an argument must occur, don't assassinate. An argument---even a strong clash---is one thing, but killing folks is another. I have seen individuals in an argument verbally hit below the belt and assault another's character. I've seen a lot of mudslinging happen in arguments related to the work of the church. I've seen brutal character assassinations occur in the name of religion---in public speaking as well as in writing---and they are all ugly memories. No need for that. If we must fight, let's fight fair.

Third, if you don't get your way, get over it; get on with life. If you don't get your way in a vote at a church, get over it. The vote was taken (if the church has integrity, the vote was handled with fairness), now get on with it. Just press on. And don't rehearse the fight or the vote year after year. The work of God slows down when we are not big enough to take it on the chin and say, "We lost!" Having been reared in the South, I didn't know the South lost the Civil War until I was in junior high school . . . and even then, it was debatable among my teachers (and among family and friends). Be big enough to say, "We lost." Grace will help.

Fourth, sometimes the best solution is a separation. There is good biblical support for this, remember, Paul and Barnabas simply couldn't go on together, so they separated. If I can't go on with the way things are in a particular ministry, I need to resign! But in doing so, I should not drag people through my unresolved conflicts because I didn't get my way. If separation is the best solution, doing it graciously is essential. If your disagreements are starting to outweigh your agreements, you ought to give strong consideration to pulling out. Who knows? This may be God's way of moving you on to another dimension of ministry.

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