My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
When will I ever get it right?
A few days ago I sat in a meeting and stayed quiet while a brother argued things I not only deeply disagreed with, but that I thought were racist. I felt the redness creeping into my face, so I stayed quiet. I thought I would be able to generate a lot of heat, but probably very little light. When the meeting was over, I sat in my office and castigated myself for my lack of response.
Tonight a well-meaning woman upbraided our entire church for not having an evangelistic heart for the world. Even though I think her comments were exaggerated but not wrong, I opposed her because it struck me she was lambasting people I deeply respect and love. Yet she is one of those people I deeply respect and love. Why didn’t I react the way I did in the prior meeting? Why didn’t I have the same impulse to be quiet and let the confrontation play out? Now I sit in my office and castigate myself for my lack of grace toward someone who was simply leveling a criticism at us that I myself have made in the past. So why did I oppose her?
No it’s not as simple as one was a man and one was a woman. I have had these second thoughts all my life and have carefully considered whether I give more deference to male/female, young/old, conservative/progressive, etc., and I honestly see no pattern. I am simply flopping one way or the other, seemingly without any predictable guidance. I actually think the biggest predictor is probably the stress level under which I was operating at the time, but even that correlation is weak.
Guarding the tongue. It’s hard for all of us, but I am employed as a minister who speaks at least weekly and often publicly. I talk when I shouldn’t. I’m quiet when I should talk. When I do talk, I often say the wrong things.
The solution that seems to present itself to me is to remain quiet until I learn to handle my tongue, but I fear I will never be engaged in ministry at all if I wait that long! So I apologize and move ahead as best I can, but I do pray that God will tame what I find untamable.
There’s no happy ending to this one. I hope I haven’t said too much … (or not enough?)
Grace and Shalom.
Steve Kenney has been married to Leslie his whole adult life, and they have three wonderful children, JaneAnn, Erin, and Scott, and one grandchild, Caroline. They have four cats and pleasant memories of many more. Steve earned an undergraduate degree in missions from Abilene Christian, and his graduate degrees from Pitt (J.D.) and Lipscomb (M.Div.). He and his family have rooted for the Reds, Bengals, and Buckeyes, but always root for the home team wherever they live. That means Steve has cheered the team from Dallas that shall no longer be named by him and the team from DC that shall no longer be named by anyone. He’s also cheered the Steelers despite his Bengal roots. So yes, he’s also a miracle-worker.