Do You Disagree?

How do you deal with people who don’t agree with you? Do you label them misguided? Uninformed? UnChristlike? Okay, maybe you don’t use those words but is that really what you mean?

How do you deal with people within the church that don’t agree with your philosophy of ministry? Your view on worship? What do you do when you don’t agree with the way someone expresses their art?

My heart is grieved over the number of conversations I hear about the wounded within the church. The church is supposed to be a place where the broken find refuge and hope. But it isn’t uncommon that the broken find themselves wounded within the refuge of the church by fellow followers of Christ.

How we handle differences should be a distinguishing mark of God’s people. Love. Grace. Kindness. Gentleness. Patience. Would these be the words you describe your behavior or others when involved in a disagreement?

All too often I hear the following words describe the behavior of those in the church that are in disagreement: Toxic, Immature, Narrow mind, Belligerent, Unkind, and Judgmental.

I think we need to do some self-examination when it comes to how we respond to people who don’t see things the way we do. It isn’t a matter of right or wrong. It is a matter of do I behave as if I have Christ’s eyes? Do I listen with his ears? Do I speak in a way that affirms another person’s value and worth regardless of whether they agree with me?

When we find ourselves in a disagreement and the other person’s behavior is less than admirable, let’s ask ourselves why they are reacting this way. What was the tenor of our relationship prior to the disagreement? Was it marked by truth, trust and love? Be honest.

If it wasn’t, might that explain the reason John walked out of the room angry when you told him that leadership has decided Clay should lead worship at the church’s anniversary celebration? John has been the lead worshipper for the past 10 years. This last year Clay came on board. Clay is 25 and is a gifted worship leader. No one would argue, including John. The problem is that no one really talked to John before the announcement was made. No one affirmed his past contribution or explained how they saw his role continuing or changing over the years. Leadership just expected that he would trust them. John tried. He tried to be supportive and encouraging to Clay. He tried to be a ‘team player’ and contribute ideas and serve in a supportive role. But now this announcement has him feeling insecure and embarrassed.

Why are we surprised at Jenn’s grumbling? She had been the primary script writer for the past 3 years, since the church started. As the church has grown so has the team. There are now 2 other writers. Most people think they are better than Jenn but no one has had a truth-filled and loving conversation with her. Instead everyone has tried affirming her role as an actor. Hoping she would see that this is her best contribution.

The members of the choir are stirring things up. People are talking about leaving the church. Spouses are calling up angry and asking to meet with arts leaders. It was a month ago that a letter went out explaining the church’s decision to make a change in worship styles. The letter thanked the choir for their contribution over the years and then they explained that they thought they would be used 2 to 3 times a year. Some people have talked to leadership. Most of the time those conversations have been heated and nothing seems to be resolved.

I am not naïve; I know that most situations are complex. And I know that many would take issue with my statement “It isn’t a matter of right or wrong. “ My point is, are we behaving as Christ would in our disagreements?

The truth is we all have areas within our character and behavior that needs maturing and growth. We all have views that are limited by our experience or lack of experience.

The wounds aren’t caused by the disagreement of the issue, the philosophy, the view or the expression. The wounds are inflicted by our behavior … our sharp and judgmental words. Our decision to not listen with an open mind and a tender heart. The damage is done by us choosing not to speak the truth in love.


Anonymous said...

What if it is not disagreement but critisim from your senior pastor or your supervisor? How should critism in the local church be handled when excellence is held at such a high standard? Should God just be thrown out in critism? After all you are trying to get people out of hell. Not trying to start any disagreements but it is an honest question, I believe that the "excellence" factor or worst yet the "passion" factor can be used as an excuse to treat people badly.

Pam said...

I would like to hear what others think or have experienced ... I believe that our words in this situation also should be marked by ... love, grace, kindness, gentleness, and patience.
We need to have a clear understanding that we aren't pursuing perfection. I like the definition Nancy Beach offers in her book, An Hour On Sunday, "Excellence is doing the best you can with what you have." Have you & your pastor agreed on what excellence looks like? Can you achieve excellence within the artistic elements in your service under your current situation? Skill level of volunteers, rehearsal time and such.

We need to be Christ to one other in all situations. Spend some time talking with your pastor about how feedback can be best recieved - I would suggest we opt out of critism. However, before you go to him or her, spend some time in self-examiniation. Ask yourself if you and your team are bringing your best offering. Ask if their is anything you could improve in your preparation, rehearsal or service time. Many times the pastor I have served along side has brought valuable insight into our creative process and preparation. Be able to articulate your picture of excellence.

Above all remember we bring our gifts within community ... when a service or a program goes well it isn't all because of our contribution. And when things don't go as we pictured we don't carry that all alone because we bring our gifts as a community.

There is so much more ... Nancy's book is a good reference, Rory Noland's books - The Heart of the Artist and Thriving as an Artist.