"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Grace under Siege 36: "We humbly serve you with hearts full of compassion."

     A couple we know recently wrote to the elders objecting to the verbally rough treatment experienced at their hands by many of us. The elders wrote back soothingly, "Do you really believe the rumors that the pastors and elders are without passion, grace, and gentleness?  We humbly serve you and the members with hearts full of compassion.  Why would you believe the accuser of the brethren?"     
     Since at least one of the elders has defined their job description as "defending Lou," since it really seems to be all about him, let me respond to Lou directly. Lou, some of us can verify that you know passion, at least the passion of anger, but let me suggest what real grace, gentleness and compassion look like.
     -When a woman allegedly reported to you that WOW's words at a luncheon had offended her, you would have gently reminded her that according to Matthew 18, she needed to talk to WOW first and seek reconciliation with her.
     --When WOW handed out a booklet (at that same luncheon) which you don't agree with but which agrees with the Grace Statement of Faith, you would have examined your own heart and either come into alignment with the Statement of Faith--or resigned.
     --When WOW filed a complaint because two elders accosted her with these accusations (that she had offended somebody and handed out a booklet "the leadership didn't agree with") and because they threatened to remove her from ministry, you would have examined the matter and allowed her to speak to each accusation. You would have listened to her--politely. 
     Then, because the accusations were false, you would have removed the two elders from leadership and apologized to WOW. You would have apologized to her publicly, in the presence of all the women who had heard the accusations you assigned someone to read aloud against her.
       --When my husband and I, as Prayer Coordinators, realizing there were differences of opinion circulating, invited church members to a time of Prayer and Praise for Grace in our home, you would have thanked God that people were praying for the church, rather than assigning an elder to insist we tell him why we were praying, what we were praying for and the names of those we had invited. When the elder called again, on his own this time, telling us not to invite people to pray again without his permission, you would have dressed him down for harassing us. 
     We could go on down the list, giving examples of people so wounded, made so uncomfortable, by the harshness of this leadership they no longer attend our church.
     Anyway, that's what "humble," "service," and "hearts full of compassion" look like, Lou. And you might reconsider who is believing "the accuser of the brethren" in this case.    

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